Making Open Work
May 8–9, 2017: Training & Tutorials
May 10–11, 2017: Conference
Austin, TX

Playing chess with companies

Simon Wardley (Leading Edge Forum)
9:00am12:30pm Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Location: Ballroom E
Level: Non-technical
Average rating: ****.
(4.62, 8 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Everyone can benefit from this session

Prerequisite knowledge

  • IMPORTANT: Please be sure to bring a printed copy of this document when you come to the tutorial

What you'll learn

  • Understand the basic concepts of mapping and be able to map an environment
  • Explore common economic patterns, doctrine, and context-specific gameplay


Simon Wardley offers an introduction to situational awareness within business, explaining why it matters and why most companies lack it. Simon explores how to map a competitive environment and how open source can be effectively used as a competitive weapon, how ecosystems can be built and exploited, how practices evolve, and how certain types of disruptive change can be anticipated and defended against. Drawing on examples from heavy engineering projects to governments to software companies such as Canonical, Simon demonstrates how mapping can be used to rapidly change the fortunes of a project, reduce costs, and outplay competitors with startling results.

Topics include:

  • Why most companies have little or no actual strategy
  • The problem and causes of misalignment within a company
  • Why no one-size-fits-all solution exists (e.g., Agile all the things, Six Sigma all the things, outsource all the things)
  • Why we tend to rely on truisms that lack data (e.g., culture eats strategy for breakfast)
  • Why companies get disrupted by highly predictable change
  • How the core problem is poor situational awareness
  • The concept of mapping a business, the main patterns of economic change, and how they can be used to your advantage
Photo of Simon Wardley

Simon Wardley

Leading Edge Forum

Simon Wardley is a researcher for the Leading Edge Forum focused on the intersection of IT strategy and new technologies. Simon is a seasoned executive who has spent the last 15 years defining future IT strategies for companies in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), retail, and IT industries—from Canon’s early leadership in the cloud computing space to Ubuntu’s recent dominance as the top cloud operating system. As a geneticist with a love of mathematics and a fascination for economics, Simon has always found himself dealing with complex systems, whether in behavioral patterns, the environmental risks of chemical pollution, developing novel computer systems, or managing companies. He’s a passionate advocate and researcher in the fields of open source, commoditization, innovation, organizational structure, and cybernetics. Simon’s most recent published research, “Clash of the Titans: Can China Dethrone Silicon Valley?” assesses the high-tech challenge from China and what this means to the future of global technology industry competition. His previous research covers topics including the nature of technological and business change over the next 20 years, value chain mapping, strategies for an increasingly open economy, Web 2.0, and a lifecycle approach to cloud computing. Simon is a regular presenter at conferences worldwide and has been voted one of the UK’s top 50 most influential people in IT in Computer Weekly’s 2011 and 2012 polls.