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


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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 bought handed a undertaking to assist our agency enter a brand new business – semiconductors. They need me to map out the house so we are able to work out the place we are able to add worth.

After I requested what they already knew about it, they tossed me a tall stack of business and inventory analyst stories, firm names, websites, blogs. I began studying by way 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 advised Shenwei I used to be pleased 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 firms and ideas he examine which have something to do with the semiconductor enterprise – in 30 seconds. He shortly got here up with an inventory with 9 names/phrases. (See Mapping – First Cross)

“Nice, now now we have a begin. Now give me a number of phrases that describe what they do, or imply, or what you don’t find out 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 appeared like the image in Mapping – Second Cross. 
Now we had some progress.

I identified he now had a starter listing that not solely contained firms however the starting of a map of the relationships between these firms. And whereas he had a number of information, others had 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 Cross listing as a diagram (see Mapping – Third Cross.)

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

Word that even with simply the sparse set of knowledge 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 firms in an business may also help you deeply perceive how the business works and who the important thing gamers are. Begin constructing one instantly. As you discover you may’t fill in all of the relationships, the gaps outlining what it’s worthwhile to be taught will develop into instantly seen.

As the knowledge fog was starting to raise, I may see Shenwei’s confidence returning. I identified that he had an actual benefit that his project was in a recognized business with numerous obtainable data. He shortly realized that he may hold including data to the columns within the third mapping go as he learn by way of the stories and websites.

Google and Google Scholar are your greatest buddies. As you uncover new data enhance 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 discovered extra in regards to the business to replace the connection diagram of the business and its segments. (When he identified that there have been present diagrams of the semiconductor business he may copy, I recommended that he ignore them. The objective was for him to know the business properly 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 discovered 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 discovered 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 alternate 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 shortly constructed on the business map to reply questions 2 by way of 10 beneath.

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

Six months later his work on this undertaking satisfied his firm that there was a big alternative within the semiconductor house, they usually began a brand new apply with him in it. His work received him the “greatest new worker” award.

The Ten Steps to Map any Trade

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 individual phrases. Begin accumulating one of the best sources of knowledge you’ve learn.

Primary Trade 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 phase?
    4. How does this business feed into the bigger financial 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 consultants in every phase? For the complete business?
    1. Financial consultants? E.g. business analysts, universities, suppose tanks
    2. Know-how consultants? E.g. universities, suppose tanks
    3. Geographic consultants?
  4. Key Conferences, blogs, websites, and many others.
    1. What are one of the best opensource knowledge feeds?
    2. What are one of the best paid assets?

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

Detailed Trade Understanding

  1. Who’re the market leaders? New entrants? In income, market share and progress charge
    1. Within the U.S.
    2. Western nations
    3. China
  2. Perceive the know-how flows
    1. Who builds on prime of who
    2. Who’s important 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 firms inside every phase get funded? Any variations in capital necessities? Ease of beginning, and many others.
  4. If relevant, perceive the personnel circulation for every phase
    1. Do folks transfer simply between their segments or up and down by way of the complete business?
    2. The place do they get skilled?

The newbie’s forecasting methodology is to easily extrapolate present progress charges ahead. However in in the present day’s know-how 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 vary within the subsequent 5 years?
    1. Any huge perception on disruption?
    2. New entrants?
    3. New know-how?
    4. New overseas suppliers?
    5. Diagram your mannequin of the business in 5 years



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