Steve Blank Maps The Unknown – The Ten Steps To Mapping Any Industry

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

Lǎozi 老子

I simply had lunch with Shenwei, one in every of my ex-students who had simply taken a job at a medium-sized consulting agency. After some catching up I mentioned he seemed a bit misplaced. “I simply received a mission to assist our firm enter a brand new {industry}: semiconductors. They need me to map out the area so we will work out the place we will add worth.

When I requested what they already knew about it, they threw me a giant pile of {industry} and inventory analyst reviews, firm names, web sites, blogs. I began studying via a bunch of them and I’m drowning within the knowledge however do not know the place to begin. I really feel like I do not know something.”

I informed Shenwei I used to be completely happy for him as a result of he simply received a terrific studying alternative: learn how to rapidly perceive after which map a brand new market. He checked out me with an “easy to say” look, however earlier than hI may object. I handed him a pen and serviette and requested him to write down down the names of firms and ideas he examine which have one thing to do with the semiconductor {industry} – in 30 seconds. He rapidly got here up with an inventory of 9 names/phrases. (See Mapping – First Pass)

“Great, now we have a start. Now give me a few words that describe what they do, or mean, or what you don’t know about them.”

Don’t be delay by the sheer dimension of unknowns. Start with what you do know.

After a couple of minutes, he got here up with a serviette sketch just like the one in Mapping – Second Pass.
Now we had some progress.

I identified that he now had a beginning checklist that not solely included firms, but in addition the start of a map of the relationships between these firms. And whereas he had some details, others have been hypotheses and ideas. And he had a variety of unanswered questions.

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

As you retain studying extra materials, you’ll have extra questions than details. Your aim 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 start to pile up sooner than the details. That’s no drawback.

Note that even with solely the sparse set of knowledge Shenwei had, within the backside proper nook of his third mapping cross, a relationship diagram of the semiconductor {industry} started to appear.

By making a diagram of the relationships of firms in an {industry}, you’ll be able to higher perceive how the {industry} works and who the important thing gamers are. Start constructing one immediately. As you end up unable to fill in all of the relationships, the gaps outlining what that you must be taught will instantly turn into obvious.

As the knowledge fog started to carry, I noticed Shenwei’s confidence return. I identified that he had an actual benefit that his task was in a well known {industry} with a variety of accessible data. He quickly realized that he may maintain including data to the columns within the third map as he learn the reviews and web sites.

Google and Google Scholar are your greatest mates. As you uncover new data, enhance your search phrases.

My suggestion was to make use of the diagram within the third cross as the beginning of a wall chart – both bodily (or digital if he may maintain all of it in his head). And every time he discovered extra in regards to the {industry} to replace the connection chart of the {industry} and its segments. (When he identified that there have been current diagrams of the semiconductor {industry} he may copy, I urged he ignore them. The aim was for him to know the {industry} nicely sufficient to attract his personal map ab initio—from scratch. And if he did, he may create a a lot better one.)

When lunch was over, Shenwei requested if it was okay if he checked in with me whereas studying new issues and I agreed. What he did not know was that this was simply step one in a ten-step technique of mapping the {industry}.


In the weeks that adopted, Shenwei shared what he had discovered and despatched me his more and more refined and up to date overview of {industry} relationships. (The 4th card cross appeared 48 hours later.)In return, I shared with him the information that he was on step one of a ten-step {industry} mapping program. Other weeks, he rapidly constructed on the {industry} map to reply questionsfactors 2 via 10 beneath.

Two weeks later, he offered his management with an {industry} report that coated the ten steps beneath and included a complicated {industry} chart that he had created from scratch. A far cry from his authentic serviette sketch!

Six months later, his work on this mission satisfied his firm that there was a terrific alternative within the semiconductor area, they usually began a brand new apply with him. His work earned him the “Best New Employee” award.

The ten steps to mapping any {industry}

Start always refining your understanding of the {industry} by charting it. List all the brand new phrases you come throughout and create a glossary in your individual phrases. Start by gathering one of the best assets you have learn.

Basic data of the {industry}

  1. Make a diagram of the {industry} and its segments
    1. Start with every little thing
    2. Build your studying via successive repetitions
    3. Who are the primary suppliers for every section?
    4. How does this {industry} feed the bigger financial system?
  2. Create a glossary of industry-specific phrases
    1. Can you clarify them to others? Are there analogies with different markets?
  3. Who are the {industry} consultants in every section? For the entire {industry}?
    1. Economic consultants? For instance, {industry} analysts, universities, assume tanks
    2. Technology consultants? For instance, universities, assume tanks
    3. Geographic consultants?
  4. Key conferences, blogs, web sites, and so on.
    1. What are one of the best open supply knowledge feeds?
    2. What are the best paid sources?

Overlay numbers, {dollars}, market share, compound annual progress fee (CAGR) on all components of the {industry} chart. That will inform the velocity and route of the market.

Detailed perception into the {industry}

  1. Who are the market leaders? Newcomers? In turnover, market share and progress fee
    1. In the U.S
    2. Western nations
    3. China
  2. Understand know-how flows
    1. Who builds on whom
    2. Who is essential versus who might be changed
  3. Understand financial flows
    1. Who buys from whom on this {industry}
    2. Who buys the output of this {industry}.
    3. How cyclical is the demand?
    4. What are the demand drivers?
    5. How are firms inside every section financed? Are there variations in capital necessities? Easy beginning and so on.
  4. If relevant, perceive the workforce movement for every section
    1. Do folks solely transfer between their segments or up and down your complete {industry}?
    2. Where are they educated?

The forecasting technique for freshmen is to easily extrapolate present progress charges ahead. But in as we speak’s know-how markets, the discontinuities are rising quick and furiously. Are there different applied sciences from adjoining markets that can impression this? (e.g. AI, Quantum, High efficiency computing,…?). Are there different international or nationwide financial initiatives that might change the form of the market?


  1. What has modified previously 10 years? 5 years?
    1. Map the {industry}’s previous incarnations
  2. What will change within the subsequent 5 years?
    1. Any perception into disruption?
    2. Newcomers?
    3. New know-how?
    4. New overseas suppliers?
    5. Map out your mannequin of the {industry} in 5 years

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