The Serverless Edge - Using Wardley Mapping with the Value Flywheel for combined business & technology evolution

In anticipation of the book launch next year from IT Revolution, let’s discuss how using Wardley Mapping can help you quickly modernize your cloud applications and drive your business.

In this talk, co-authors David Anderson and Mark McCann explore how the elements of the value flywheel can start you on your journey towards a serverless-first organization.

Learn how to: - build a sense of purpose, challenge your landscape, execute the next best action and create long-term value. Wardley Mapping is used throughout this entire process to make strategy real, pragmatic and build maximum situational awareness.


David Anderson

Author, 'The Serverless Edge'


Mark McCann

Author, 'The Serverless Edge'





Welcome everyone. Today we'd like to talk to you about using worldly mapping with the value flywheel for combined business and technology evolution. We believe, despite all the change that's happened, there's still a wave of transformation on the way for many organizations. We believe that the serverless first approach will help you and your company ride this wave and succeed. Specifically, we're gonna introduce something we call the Flywheel Effect. The first, let's do some introductions. My name is David Anderson. I'm an engineer with extensive enterprise cloud and leadership experience.


My name is Mark McCann. I'm also an engineering cloud architect, and I'm passionately pursuing Service first and engineering excellence.


We are both part of the WARDLY mapping community, the service community, and we also have a big focus on product. We've been building a body of content around the serverless age over the past year with a book coming out with it Revolution Press next year, along with the third contributor, Michael Riley. Between the three of us, we have extensive experience in building systems and driving change. We believe serverless first represents an evolution into a new way of working that most companies will start using the cloud technology to reduce their time to value, and really drive business results.


As we said, the flywheel effect is the mechanism we are going to describe. It's a phrase from the Jim Collins book, good to Great, but it is a very accurate description of what we are observing. But before we get into that, let's explain what a flywheel is, because <laugh>, there's maybe one or two of you that need a refresher on, uh, 19th century engineering and I, uh, when power is inconsistent, a flywheel is used to absorb the energy and evenly distributed in order to drive smoothly. We believe that both business and technology drivers should merge together, but something is required for that smooth progress to happen, and that's where a flywheel comes in. The last thing you want is business and technology energy canceling each other out. And we've seen that many times in, in our, in our experience.


Yeah, definitely. The thing is, we, we want help your organization get this flyable turnout. You have to build up momentum going in the right direction. It's really about improving your time to value, ultimately delivering sustainable results. But maybe let's talk with the flip side, right? What, what we have seen a lot over our careers is things like, you know, dev versus ops, silos, tech versus product silos, unclear purpose per technical decisions, and short term thinking. This all builds business technical and organizational depth. It clogs up your flyaway.


So I don't think this sounds complicated, but we, we've seen this a lot, you know, and so how do you build that long-term success? We, mark and I have seen this in a, a whole bunch of companies. We've, we've been, um, speaking to, working with over the years. You've got Liberty Mutual, Coca-Cola, taco Bell, work with Software iRobot, BBC, Ericsson Vendor, cloud Guru, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and loads of startups have figured this out as your company have figured this out, because the thing I believe is that a lot of companies don't really know this flywheel exists and are caught in the build trap and don't know their time to value. And by the way, escaping the Build Trap is a brilliant book by Melissa Perry, thoroughly recommended. Yeah.


So we believe and, and the, the, the, the value flywheel here. We believe that creating and visualizing this value flywheel is critical in today's business landscape. We also believe that wordly mapping is one of the best techniques to help you navigate through this change. And we're gonna talk you through this model and, and highlight it with an example later. But before that, it's important to point out this is neither hybrid strategy or operational efficiency. This is about having a real base for action aligned with the pragmatic proven ways of working that we have seen. This wheel is designed to spend many times, so don't feel that you need to do everything in phase two before moving on to phase three momentum. And that bass reaction is more important than anything else. Getting moving is really critical. So phase one, it's all about purpose. It sounds easy, but do you know what you're trying to do as a team, as a department, as an organization, as you really know What is valuable for your team, for your org, for, for your, for your business?


Phase two covers challenge. You know, have you created that right environment for success? You know, is the right is the right environment there to discuss what you need to get to and to challenge the thinking until it's good enough for you to succeed. Phase three is about that next, next best action. You don't go play it or build things you don't need to. With real focus, you can get results quicker than you can ever imagine. And phase four is about building for long-term value. There will be plenty of opportunities in the future, but you don't want to close them off because of some decisions you've made today that slow you down later.


So in the past, I mean, just thinking, mark, Michael and I have been think about this for a very, for many, many years, and I'd always thought of this as building blocks, but I think when you sit and show someone all these building blocks built, it just seems overwhelming and it doesn't really convey the movement. And that rapid iteration as you create each of these blocks and build on it, and to show that bias for actions is critical for success. So, you know, I I I, I'm kinda moving away from maybe these are building blocks. I think the idea that this is a flyaway that you need to keep turning is a nicer analogy. And we certainly found that this works for this type of thinking.


Yeah, building props are very static, a flywheel, you know, and conveys movement. And that's critical. 'cause you know, that vast fraction, as we've mentioned, is, is critical.


So let's kinda walk through each of these, these, these four phases. Um, the first is purpose. And rather than me rant on mark, why do you think purpose is important?


Yeah, so, so purpose, no, and we've seen this time and again, it's really critical for that alignment, um, on vision and strategy. So the teams actually know that the work that they're working on actually makes a difference, is actually aligned with the goals and KPIs and results of your business. Um, we've seen too many times where teams have hadn't had this clarity of purpose and they can't really articulate, you know, that the thing that they're working on, you know, how it makes a difference to their overall business. So it's really critical that they have that clarity of purpose. Um, one of the other, you know, big things that we've mentioned here around the purpose is about obsessing over your time the value. It really is critical that teams have observability of that, you know, how long it takes for a change to make a, to, to get their real user. And making that really clear and making that feedback look very actionable so that your teams can focus on minimizing and reducing that time to value overall.


Yeah, and I mean, the thing is, like, we're touched on wordly mapping on this. So for each of these phases, we have like a suggestion how you wordly map this. So for the first one, you wordly map to gain situational awareness of the competitive environment you're in at the market level. You, you're putting the product to market. Who else is in the market? What's your differentiator? What's your chance of success? And there's no point in having this fantastic organization with engineers and product people, you know, going crazy and you're going the wrong direction. So that idea of worldly mapping they map your market is absolutely critical.


The next stage is challenge. So Dave, instead of me waffling on what, why is challenge important? Why is it critical for success?


The first thing you, you always see in any team is the, is the environment for success. You know, it's, it's, it's people in the teams, it's, it's people build software. Um, so do you have an environment where people can be at their best and they can challenge each other responsibly without, you know, the whole argument? I mean, that, that's really the thing. Um, sometimes it's referred to as psychological safety. Um, you know, there, there's no point in knowing the right thing to do, but you're, you're maybe afraid to kinda say that. And if you've that really kind of, uh, supportive environment, you can build and interact to those kind of, um, loops we've been talking about. And then again, this sociotechnical phrase is interesting. There's a socio socio people aspect of your system, and there's a technical, as engineers mean, we'll always default to technical, but the big part of that is, I would say, more important. And then you think the problem prevention time, the value, you, you gotta look at all this stuff together and figure out what's the best thing that will work. Um, you can rarely code you outta a problem, and that's really what, what what we, what we've seen over the years.


Absolutely. I think bringing those elements together has been critical. Having that, that holistic sociotechnical view of the system has been critical to to, to get that flywheel turning and finally on, on on challenge. You know, we think mapping is massive in, in, in, in writing challenge. You know, we, what we have seen in our experience is wordly mapping. You know, people can challenge the map. They're not challenging individuals. So it becomes a lot safer for people to, to bring up, um, new ideas, new topics. 'cause you know, leadership and people that you work with, they can challenge that map. They're not challenging you as a person. So we think mapping is, is, is critical here to gain that understanding of your organization, to look at your capabilities, look at, you know, your, your doctrine to understand is it fit for purpose for where you're trying to get to? Will it help you, uh, get to realize your North star and your long-term value? So, you know, mapping to gain that understanding and that situational awareness of, of your organization capabilities is critical, uh, to, to really drive the flywheel forward.


Yeah. And Robert challenge is a good thing. It's not bad, you know, challenge always helps you get to a better place. So stage three is next best action. Mark, what, what's your, uh, thoughts on this


One? Yeah, so I think, you know, the, the next next best action, you know, really shortcuts a lot of the, you know, uh, waffly strategic frameworks that, that we've had in in the past. You know, what can you do now for Rapid impact? What's the most important, most impactful thing you as an individual, as a team can do now for impact? You know, having that mindset is, is critical. Um, and we believe, you know, having that serverless first mindset and approach really enables your teams to focus on that business outcome and that business impact. But it also has the added benefits. It keeps your code low, keeps your security high, keeps your cost liabilities under control. So, you know, we, we really think, you know, serverless first, um, is a game changer for helping you move rapidly, um, in the right way, in a sustainable way. And removing developer friction is also a massive, uh, enabler for, for, you know, being able to execute that next best action. And consistently identifying and removing impediments to your development teams is one of the most effective paths to high performance. You know, your, your goal here is fast flow efficiency from idea to real user value and real, you know, impact for your business.


And so you reckon, you know, serverless is a, is a good option. They get that next best action that, that immediate response.


Absolutely. Thanks. Serverless has been a game changer in that, in that regards. You know, you can't move at rapid speed without compromise.


Yeah. And I mean, you know, you can do this in other approaches as well, but the, that serverless mindset we have found is, is just primed to move really quickly. You can do it with other things as well, but, but it's, it's, it's, it's, it's 10 x use a phrase with, with


Serverless. Yeah. And one of the big things that we keep really rating is it's serverless first. It's not serverless only. You know, serverless doesn't fit your needs right now. There are plenty of compelling, uh, fallback options that you can take advantage of in the cloud


Again, right tool for the job every time. I mean, and one way to figure that out, again, go back to the worldly mapping, is map out your tech stack and figure out, okay, what we've built this thing, we wouldn't know, okay, we have it, but is that a good thing to build and look for opportunities for evolution and impediments to remove, you know, as a team, sit and figure that out. You know, you always have some tech debt, but decide what's the best thing to act on. So by wordly mapping out your solution, you can figure out, okay, we, we'll need to build this 'cause this is a differentiator and we'll just ran something else. So again, that's such a powerful technique to kinda get some visibility in the, into this space.


Yeah. And, and then finally, with all you, with the first three sort of elements of the flywheel turning here, we can end the long term value. Uh, Dave, what, what do you think? What, what, what's the long term value that we're going for here?


So, I think this is probably the most interesting one for me. 'cause certainly over my career, I've always had this in mind, and it's, I mean, you rarely get a requirement for long-term value sitting in a project, but you always know in the back of your mind, it'll be easier if we just put this thing into place. I was always very popular in teams when I would come up with, we should do this. Why? Because it's the right thing to do, I think, but it's extra work. But a problem prevention culture means that you reward teams for doing the hard stuff upfront and avoiding failure. It, it's not about rewarding heroes. You stay up all night and get the system back online. You, you've already failed by that point, um, doing the, the, the hard yards early, which means your system doesn't go down. And for us, that's been well architected, it's been massive in that. And embracing engineer excellence, take pride in your engineering, you know, and build things when you have to and don't when you don't. And then there's another part of that, which is like sustainability. Uh, if you can create low carbon products and services and at a sustainable pace for your people, which leads to long term sustainable business success, I mean, that is just that the flywheel is really turning in. Like,


Yeah. And then, you know, again, we use wordly maps here to, to really identify what those new opportunities are. You, where are those new emerging areas of value that we should go after as a, as a team, as a, as an organization. So what new threats are there to that are that we need to counter do what new players are starting to emerge now? What areas do we need to get out of? And mapping helps you really identify the, the areas that are no longer value add or no longer core to your business, and can give you good insights into, to where you should extract from, and also gives you those new points of evolution that start thinking about, well, how do we evolve from some of the custom build things that we have, or the more commodities so that we can free up our people to, to work on that long-term value and the, the higher order, uh, elements of our business.


So we've covered the kinda value flywheel effect as first you on how it works wasn't about wordly mapping. So let's just do a, a brief intro on mapping. Uh, we explain most, but the important part of worldly mapping is this, value access along the bottom, and let, we'll describe what that is, but first to illustrate it. If you think of computers and companies, right? In the 1950s, having a computer was novel and new. That was stage one genesis. It was very rare to have a computer in a company. By the seventies, companies built their own computers and got ahead. They custom built computers to give them capability. That's stage two custom built in the nineties. Computers were everywhere, you know, every, it was just, they were getting better, more refined. It was a boom. That's stage three, you know, getting that product phase. And now stage four a commodity, you don't even really buy them anymore. You rent them as a utility, which we now call cloud.


Yep. So these, these, you know, four access here. So stage one is Genesis. Um, and as data is illustrated there, that component lives, that lives here is rare and poorly understood. It has a future value, but it's uncertain whether we'll ever make it to commodity. The user thinks of this as exciting and surprising. We treat it with wonder. Stage two is custom built. Do we know how to build this component here? And, and we're starting to learn about it. We're starting to get a formal understanding of it. It's in a forming market, and we are learning how to make money from it. You know, it's leading edge, and if you have it, you're doing pretty well. And stage three is product of rental. These are, things are starting to heat up. It's a growing market, it's getting more competitive. Um, these things are highly profitable and they need to be fit for purpose, uh, as consumption is, is wide.


Uh, and we listen to our customers and make these things better so people will, will buy more of these, these, uh, things that are in, in the product. And stage four, the, the final stage is commodity or utility. And this component is widely used. And, and, and, and the mature market, you know, having, this is just the cost of doing business and everyone understands it. So there's little profit to be made, and the company needs to mass produce these things for, for, uh, for big profits. So we're gonna walk you through, uh, uh, a work example here to really bring this, bring this to life.


Okay? So super simple example. You've got a business who are running a conference. We're hold a conference today. Should be familiar with it. Um, so first step with mapping is to sketch a really simple value chain. We always start with a customer, customer need, and they act as the anchor. So, uh, the customer or attendee has a need for knowledge, and knowledge has a dependence on a conference. That's it, you know, super simple. So then moving forward, you take that value chain and you drop it into, uh, the wordly map here. So for the first phase of the flywheel, which is purpose, you wanna kinda see what that looks like. So as I said, the attendee is the value is the anchor for the map. Uh, the y axis here, explain it now represents visibility. Things closer to the attendee are more visible, things lower down are less visible. So as a team, you wanna spend more time and making sure that things closer to the customer are of value and less time in the things that are away from the company customer.


And the beauty maps here is that you, the components can move across this, uh, from this, this, uh, canvas here from left or right, and they evolve towards commodity as they become more industrialized. But what does it mean to, quite simply, if there is an advantage to be gained from making something better, then it will move from Genesis through due commodity. You market competition will force that to happen if there's value in doing so. Um, Joe, so you can see here with place conference to the left of product, uh, as a physical conference has a lot of unique and specific factors. Uh, but the disruption that Covid has brought, um, means that it has quickly moved more to the rec and become more industrialized in the virtual conference. Um, but the, the customer need that hasn't changed. You know, the, the, the the need for knowledge is, is still there. And, and this is a very real problem and one that you're all well aware of, especially as you're attending a virtual virtual event right now. Um, you all need this knowledge that this conference and this event is giving you. Uh, but how many of you would've actually traveled to Vegas? We don't know that. But, uh, there's probably a lot of people here, um, on this virtual event that wouldn't have been here and wouldn't have been able or, or, uh, could afford to travel to Vegas today.


So moving on to phase two challenge, uh, and this is an interesting phase. As you start to make some assumptions, we accept that the virtual conferences in commodity and create a dependency on, on a platform. So if we decided to custom build that platform, it would be way over to the left, but still, again, not very visible to the user. They don't care. Um, how, how you, we, you deliver the, the virtual conference experience. They just want the, the, to get the, get the knowledge. And at this point, you know, we, we, you know, as we talk about this as a team, you know, we can test out the psychological safety of your environment and the appetite for change. You know, world mapping is a great way to facilitate a healthy, challenging debate on where this should be and what we should do about the platform.


Um, as, as we go to tackle, you know, delivering this virtual conference, uh, it really doesn't invite that, that challenge, because you're challenging the map. You're not challenging any, any individual. Um, so when you take that next step, any platform you, you, you need will, we'll need those enhanced audio visual skills, uh, to give that content polished. Now, this is a much better investment in investing in those AV skills than it is in trying to custom build a platforms to create your own YouTube, for example. You know, so there's, there's no comparable advantage and, you know, trying to recreate something that already exists that that is very, you know, capable of and providing the capabilities that you need. So there's a much better return on investment in, in leveraging a platform that's, that's already exists out there.


Yeah, I mean, like the, the platform argument, sorry, discussion, uh, that could literally go on for years. But having a map, the room can sit as you're working through this, pause that decision and move forward. And eventually with the completed map, the decision makes itself. It's like, okay, now we've seen, you know, how this is gonna play out. It's obvious where the platform should set, but you can see that in a day as opposed to three years. Uh, the next phase is next best action. So again, with our serverless first mindset, we'll rent and not build a platform. Let's look back at the customer. So it's the next best action approach we spot. There's a new need for access, real time and on demand. And real time gives you improved speaker collaboration with this, with speaker chat as a new feature. Again, that's, that's good that we can look at that from the platform perspective and have real requirements, not just kinda with assist requirements.


Remember, we we're, we're just mapping here, right? We've built a, a pretty accurate, uh, picture in, in minutes or, or ours as a team. Um, and our investment has been low, right? Uh, we've, we've only spent a few hours or, or minutes even on, on this and, and knocking this around can contrast that to a few went, oh, we're getting a platform. And then three months later you realize that actually we don't need to custom build our own platform. You know, mapping brings that situation over, it brings that challenge and it's very quick. And the return investment is, is very high, um, for, for your org. So phase four is long-term value. Now, as we are looking at long-term value, we can start to look ahead, you know, once the system is in place, maybe we can start getting clever with some personalization and create some curated content per attendee.


So this could open up new collaboration channels, channels, and, and enable things like co-creation of content, maybe even with the speakers, you know, there's much more access now because, you know, uh, at this event, we're gonna be speaking to you on speaker chat as, as we are presenting here. And so maybe we can do, use that time to find some of the adopters of the patterns and explore further use cases that we can find some, like mines here trying to tease out some capabilities or some terms. And, and we can use that, you know, it's a, it's a valuable capability that, that, that has emerged there. And it's not a primary need, but we need to think ahead of these things. And we need to start thinking, well, what are the new emerging, uh, value that, that we, uh, in this as a conference provider can, can, can grab


Good stuff. So as, as we close out the map example, there's a couple things that's worth calling out. This is a template that, that we've been using for a long time. Um, so there's four elements to this. First is the value chain that we usually put down the left of the whiteboard or, um, mayor, we're doing this online, um, and I've removed it from this picture. You've got a map in the center, which is your focus of attention. Um, and then the next thing we have here is climatic patterns. These are things that affect the domain that affect the industry regardless of this customer, this company, things are happening in a way. And then finally there's observations, which is the narrative from the map, but we'll come back to those in a second. The climatic patterns for this map, um, we, we've me em a few times, COVID accelerates change, you know, speed it up.


There's a, there's a raised expectation of premium content. People aren't gonna sit at home and watch second grade content. Time and work-life balance are important. The buyers to entry have lowered. Uh, there's lots more people who can attend this virtual event. You don't have to fly to Vegas. Isolation drives a need for more and a different type of connection. It's harder to connect when you're remote. So there's a new need appearing, and then there's a risk from cyber threats. One attacking your event is destroyed. This is much worse, obviously, in a physical or in a virtual event.


Yeah. And then finally, the observations. You know, we use these observations really to drive, well, what are we actually gonna do? But this, what, what is this map telling us? What, what, uh, actions is it compelling us to, to start thinking about? And the, the observations we have here around, you know, that increased attendee speaker interaction, you know, the, the virtual platform has created a new value proposition, a speaker to attendee interaction is now easier. So we probably should do something about that and start, uh, capitalizing on that. You know, the, the well architected practice, you know, helps problem prevention. You know, failure isn't an option on a virtual conference. You know, you need this to be up and resilient and highly, highly available. So the platform needs to be very robust, you know, and you don't wanna custom build that for a few extra features.


You wanna, you know, basically leverage and do your homework, but leverage a, a world class capability that already exists out there that has those, uh, well architected characteristics that you need to, to deliver a, a compelling virtual event. And then that need for knowledge has really evolved to be, to join joining in as a community. You know, we've always had a small portion of, you know, returning conference attendees that would think of an event as a community and more of a community event where they could you meet up with, with like-minded you people and, and, and challenge each other and you discuss ideas. But now that can be expanded greatly and the community can be much more diverse and inclusive. And that's a big selling point for, for online virtual conferences. And we've lowered the barrier significantly, uh, to, to entry for, for people who, who couldn't fly around the world to, to, to be part of some of these events. So again, that's something that, that needs to be explored and, and actioned on, is about that need for knowledge, that need for, you know, being part of a community becomes, uh, greater


Good stuff. So Simon Wardley, oh, actually Simon Wardley is the guy who created up a bunch this map and stuff, but we should give him a nod. So Simon says, uh, the idea of future possibilities through stepping stones is an important concept within strategy, like strategy. It's not only drawing a picture in January, forgetting about it, writing something on the wall, you know, it's not about what you do every second Friday and you're planning a meeting. This flywheel is a pattern of interaction. Enables the team to map out the journey during execution. You get alignment and challenge in the room. And if the map's wrong, just change it. It's only a drone. The map represents a conversation, but it also uncovers very useful value and highlights, blockers to your team's progress.


So that's the flywheel effect. I hope that made sense and raised a few question. I mean, the, the whole point of this is to map out the journey and, and it shows the way you kinda need to look forward and use bias for action to test your assumptions, I think. And we both think that a version of this flywheel exists in every single company, but many can't see it and therefore can't get a turn. Worldly mapping is the key technique for building insight, and we've talked about the importance of next best action and tracking your own time to value. And all this is covered in the, the book and in the blog of Serverless Edge. So thanks again for listening to talk. Uh, my name's David Anderson,


And I'm Mark McCann.


Uh, again, this is a tester of the content in our book, which is coming out next year from IT Revolution Press. Uh, there's a few case studies of companies in the book that have gotten this model really, really working really well, uh, with lots of advice, illustrations to how this works. And there's, again, there's content on the blog. So really value your feedback and please reach out to us either at this event, on chat, or on social media at the tags there. Um, we believe that this wave of transformation has still not hit most companies. Yes, you immigrate into the cloud, but have you really thought about how technology will drive your business when you get there? Thanks very much. Thank you.