Steve Clean Mapping the Unknown – The Ten Steps to Map Any Business



A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

 Lǎozi 老子

I simply had lunch with Shenwei, one in all my ex-students who had simply taken a job in a mid-sized consulting agency.  After a little bit of catching up I provided he was wanting a bit misplaced. “I simply acquired handed a venture to assist our agency enter a brand new business – semiconductors. They need me to map out the house so we are able to determine the place we are able to add worth.

Once I requested what they already knew about it, they tossed me a tall stack of business and inventory analyst studies, firm names, websites, blogs. I began studying by means of a bunch of it and I’m drowning in knowledge however don’t know the place to begin. I really feel like I don’t know a factor.”

I informed Shenwei I used to be joyful for him as a result of he had simply been handed an superior studying alternative – how you can quickly perceive after which map any new market. He gave me a “straightforward so that you can say” look, however earlier than he may object I handed him a pen and a serviette and requested him to put in writing down the names of corporations and ideas he examine which have something to do with the semiconductor enterprise – in 30 seconds. He rapidly got here up with an inventory with 9 names/phrases. (See Mapping – First Go)

“Nice, now we’ve a begin. Now give me just a few phrases that describe what they do, or imply, or what you don’t learn about them.”

Don’t let the enormity of unknowns frighten you. Begin with what you do know.

After a couple of minutes he got here up with a serviette sketch that seemed like the image in Mapping – Second Go. 
Now we had some progress.

I identified he now had a starter listing that not solely contained corporations however the starting of a map of the relationships between these corporations. And whereas he had just a few details, others have been hypotheses and ideas. And he had a ton of unanswered questions.

We spent the subsequent 20 minutes deconstructing that sketch and mapping out the Second Go listing as a diagram (see Mapping – Third Go.)

As you retain studying extra supplies, you’ll have extra questions than details. Your purpose is to first flip the questions into testable hypotheses (guesses). Then see if yow will discover knowledge that turns the hypotheses into details. For some time the questions will begin accumulating sooner than the details. That’s OK.

Word that even with simply the sparse set of data Shenwei had, within the backside right-hand nook of his third mapping go, a relationship diagram of the semiconductor business was starting to emerge.

Drawing a diagram of the relationships of corporations in an business can assist you deeply perceive how the business works and who the important thing gamers are. Begin constructing one instantly. As you discover you’ll be able to’t fill in all of the relationships, the gaps outlining what you could study will change into instantly seen.

As the data fog was starting to raise, I may see Shenwei’s confidence returning. I identified that he had an actual benefit that his task was in a identified business with numerous accessible info. He rapidly realized that he may hold including info to the columns within the third mapping go as he learn by means of the studies and websites.

Google and Google Scholar are your finest buddies. As you uncover new info improve your search phrases.

My suggestion was to make use of the diagram within the third mapping go as the start of a wall chart – both bodily (or just about if he may hold it in all in his head). And each time he realized extra concerning the business to replace the connection diagram of the business and its segments. (When he identified that there have been current diagrams of the semiconductor business he may copy, I instructed that he ignore them. The purpose was for him to grasp the business nicely sufficient that he may draw his personal map ab initio – from the start. And if he did so, he would possibly create a a lot better one.)

When lunch was over Shenwei requested if it was OK if he checked in with me as he realized new issues and I agreed. What he didn’t know was that this was solely step one in a ten-step business mapping course of.


Over the subsequent few weeks Shenwei shared what he had realized and despatched me his more and more refined and up to date business relationship map. (The 4th  mapping go confirmed up 48 hours later.)In trade I shared with him the information that he was on step one in all a ten step business mapping program. Different the subsequent few weeks he rapidly constructed on the business map to reply questions 2 by means of 10 beneath.

Two weeks later he handed his management an business report that coated the ten steps beneath and contained a complicated business diagram he created from scratch. A far cry from his unique serviette sketch!

Six months later his work on this venture satisfied his firm that there was a big alternative within the semiconductor house, and so they began a brand new observe with him in it. His work received him the “finest new worker” award.

The Ten Steps to Map any Business

Begin by constantly refining your understanding of the business by diagramming it. Listing all the brand new phrases you encounter and create a glossary in your personal phrases. Begin amassing one of the best sources of data you’ve learn.

Fundamental Business Understanding

  1. Diagram the business and its segments
    1. Begin with something
    2. Construct your studying by successive iteration
    3. Who’re the important thing suppliers to every section?
    4. How does this business feed into the bigger economic system?
  2. Create a glossary of business distinctive phrases
    1. Are you able to clarify them to others? Are there analogies to different markets?
  3. Who’re the business specialists in every section? For your entire business?
    1. Financial specialists? E.g. business analysts, universities, assume tanks
    2. Know-how specialists? E.g. universities, assume tanks
    3. Geographic specialists?
  4. Key Conferences, blogs, websites, and so forth.
    1. What are one of the best opensource knowledge feeds?
    2. What are one of the best paid sources?

Overlay numbers, {dollars}, market share, Compound Annual Progress Fee (CAGR) on all elements of the business diagram. That can inform velocity and path of the market.

Detailed Business Understanding

  1. Who’re the market leaders? New entrants? In income, market share and progress charge
    1. Within the U.S.
    2. Western international locations
    3. China
  2. Perceive the expertise flows
    1. Who builds on high of who
    2. Who’s vital versus who could be substituted
  3. Perceive the financial flows
    1. Who buys from who on this business
    2. Who buys the output from this business.
    3. How cyclical is demand?
    4. What are the demand drivers?
    5. How do corporations inside every section get funded? Any variations in capital necessities? Ease of beginning, and so forth.
  4. If relevant, perceive the personnel movement for every section
    1. Do folks transfer simply between their segments or up and down by means of your entire business?
    2. The place do they get skilled?

The newbie’s forecasting technique is to easily extrapolate present progress charges ahead. However in in the present day’s expertise markets, discontinuities are coming quick and livid. Are there different applied sciences from adjoining markets will affect this one? (e.g. AI, Quantum, Excessive efficiency computing,…?). Are there different international or nationwide financial initiatives that would change the form of the market?


  1. What’s modified within the final 10 years? 5 years?
    1. Diagram the previous incarnations of the business
  2. What’s going to alter within the subsequent 5 years?
    1. Any huge perception on disruption?
    2. New entrants?
    3. New expertise?
    4. New international suppliers?
    5. Diagram your mannequin of the business in 5 years



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