LET’S DO THINGS ON PURPOSE, TOGETHER.

Welcome, internet friend! You’ve just stumbled upon Ben Mosior, an absurd but friendly methodology whisperer who specializes in unorthodox ways to intentionally think, know, and do.

Working with Ben was unlike any consultant I’ve ever worked with before. He knows technology, but doesn’t get distracted by bells and whistles. He knows strategy, but doesn’t get lost dreaming up big visions with no connection to reality. He has empathy for people, but doesn’t allow any one person’s agenda to dominate the discussion. He’s like a mediator between the dozens of competing interests, concerns, and goals in a complex project, while also pushing it forward toward concrete results.

It’s difficult to describe exactly what Ben does, because he covers so many bases. But when he’s around things go more smoothly and major mistakes that could derail the team simply don’t happen.

Tiago Forte
Founder, Forte Labs

Ben is an asset to any team that has the fortune to work with him. First and foremost, Ben has a deep sense of compassion, empathy, and integrity that pervades everything he does. But he is not merely another person with a kind and loving heart: he wields a deep power with a precise and effective set of skills. Ben has an intimidatingly large quantity of tools and mental models available at his disposalwhich he knows when and how to deploy.

He’s the first person I think of when I find tricky problems or new opportunities, and I wouldn’t want to start a company, run a non-profit, or embark on accomplishing a major vision without Ben’s support.

Tasshin Fogleman
Assistant Executive Director, Monastic Academy

Ben is one of the clearest thinkers on strategy I’ve ever met. He’s also an incredible communicator and facilitator. If you need someone on your team right now to navigate these troubling times, you would be utterly mad to pass this offer up!

Ben Ford
Founder, Commando Development

Say Hello

You can also find me on Twitter and Mastodon!

All Posts

Easy Come, Easy Go

Twitter is a sad, unsurprising story. But I’m comforted by some good news: All things are temporary, even platforms. I’ve come to accept that all content I produce on someone else’s platform is impermanent. But it’s important to note: Some platforms are less impermanent than others. In light of Twitter’s mess, I’ve embraced three alternative […]

Millstones and Learned Hopelessness

Learned Helplessness is something that happens when someone’s agency (as in, their ability to make decisions, take actions, and see the impact those actions have on the world) gradually, persistently gets eroded away. When that erosion has gone on long enough, that someone stops believing that their actions matter. They go with the flow of […]

Ontological Pluralism

Ontological Pluralism is an idea put forward by Arturo Escobar in his book Designs for the Pluriverse. The more I think about it, the more it messes me up. I’m sure I’m getting it wrong in important ways, but the basic idea as I understand it is a flavor of live-and-let-live focused on which futures […]

5 Lessons From a Decade of Marriage

A letter written to a newlywed couple. The truth is, marriage is extremely rewarding. It is also extremely difficult. We’ve learned many hard lessons about building a good marriage over the last decade, and we’re sharing the ones that have helped us the most below. (We’re hopeful that what took us eleven years to learn […]

Cynefin with Examples

Cynefin is a public domain (citation needed), complexity-centered framework for sense-making. There are 5 ontological domains (you can call them quadrants if you want to piss off certain corners of the internet) — Clear (formerly Simple/Obvious), Complicated, Complex, Chaotic, and Disorder. Each domain suggests its own specific way of being. I’m going to describe this […]

Tasshin Interviews Ben on Strategy

This is a rapidfire overview of strategic methods that Tasshin Fogleman and I recorded back in July of 2020. He’s edited it together for the Reach Truth Podcast, which you can check out at his YouTube channel here. I recommend watching the video directly on YouTube, since there are important links in the description that […]

Donald A Schön at Iowa State University (Talk Transcript)

When intuitive, spontaneous performance yields nothing more than the results expected for it, then we tend not to think about it. But when intuitive performance leads to surprises, pleasing and promising or unwanted, we may respond by reflecting-in-action. Donald A Schön, The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action To read the transcript alongside the […]

Meaning Making Machines (Jennifer Carlston)

Ben and Jenny discuss the absurdity of life, how to create and test learning models, and a unique approach to experience sharing known as “kything.”

Anticipatory Awareness and the Election

The anxiety I feel about the actions of the Trump administration over the last few years reaches a new crescendo as Nov 3rd, 2020 rolls around. Instead of cycling endlessly through various “what-ifs,” I am going to make use of a technique I teach others, useful for both corporate horizon scanning and personal anxiety management. […]

Ten Heuristics for Bad Times

A heuristic is a cognitive shortcut for decision-making. It is not guaranteed to be rational or even correct. It serves only to help you get to “good enough” in the short term. Here are ten to try in bad times…

Society in Transition (Dr. Caitlin McDonald)

COVID-19 is changing our society, but how are we coping? Ben is joined by digital anthropologist Dr. Caitlin McDonald to discuss our collective re-examination of common assumptions about work, community, and life.

Language Is Key, but Context Is King (Dean DiStasio)

Ben is joined by artist Dean Distasio to explore what it takes to create transformative conversations through complexity-informed artistic works. Dean shares his process and offers unique perspective on networks, narrative, and the importance of language and context.

Organizational Resilience (Matt Stratton)

Legendary DevOps friend Matt Stratton joins Ben for a discussion on the very near and dear topic of organizational trauma. Matt shares important lessons from his experiences, as well as a few secrets to building organizational resilience through incident response. (Content warning: General discussion of trauma.)

Building Bridges (Colleen Esposito)

Ben is joined by Colleen Esposito, an agile coach and self-described bridge-builder with an incredible set of unique experiences spanning finance, software development, project management, and even home renovation. She and Ben explore the complexity of engaging with organizations as an outsider and what it really means to change the way we work. Colleen Recommends: […]

A Broken Compass: Sentiment Analysis in the Tweetstream

About a year ago, I became acutely aware that my consumption of Twitter was becoming increasingly entangled with elevated levels of anxiety. Twitter has long been a wonderful way to connect with cool people I can’t always see in person, so I didn’t appreciate how my experience with it was souring. I began searching for […]

Implicit Guidance (Mario Platt & Ben Ford)

Special guests Mario Platt (Privacy Beacon) and Ben Ford (Commando Development) join Ben Mosior for an extensive discussion of the OODA Loop, the Cynefin Framework, and Derek M. C. Yuen’s book, Deciphering Sun Tzu. Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War Thinking in Bets The Evolution of Wealth Deciphering Sun Tzu Loon […]

How are you doing as a human? (Toby Sola)

This episode features a thoughtful discussion with Toby Sola, Co-Founder & CPO of Brightmind, a meditation app for managing stress and anxiety. Ben and Toby explore the intersection of meditation and technology, as well as how to start inviting contemplative practice into your workplace. Our mutual friend Tasshin Shinzen Young The Monastic Academy Meditating in […]

The Reluctant Devop: Heretical Anthropology (Anthony Mastrean)

Ben kicks off episode 2 with Anthony Mastrean, a friend, colleague, and professional organizational agitator. They discuss the origin story leading to their work together, what it’s like changing an organization from the inside, and the underrated discipline of Software Configuration Management. Steven Shorrock: The Varieties of Human Work Tasshin Fogleman: Burja Mapping Discussion with […]

On Understanding the Self: Mapping and the Annual Review

Back when I thought I needed to work in cubicles the rest of my life, I did something similar to this with mapping. I believe @kelseyhightower has as well. I do wish I had @MaturityMapping at my fingertips back then. It might have helped me struggle less. Oh, was I ever fighting myself while trying to figure out how […]

The Integrative Approach: When the Opportunities Reveal Themselves (Ryan Wold)

Ben is joined by Ryan Wold for the very first episode of the Hired Thought Podcast. They talk about the sociotechnical nature of organizations, and what it’s like to integrate a larger view of the system across functional boundaries. The Shape of Strategy Simon Wardley’s 100 Day Corporate Get Fit Plan Map Camp Slack Follow […]

For Founders

Let’s talk about purposeful organizations, the overwhelm of too many sources of information, and what errors to avoid as a founder. [I]n an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of […]

Evolution and Being in Genesis

How do you get through beginnings? What does it mean to be in Genesis? If you broke your work (and everything around it) down into parts, which ones are truly in genesis, and which ones have been done before (in other situations by other people)? The trick is to re-use and adapt what others have […]

Tim Ebenezer — Mapping Policing in the UK

Absolutely fabulous conversation with Tim Ebenezer on Wardley Mapping and policing in the UK. We walk step-by-step through a hypothetical example, sharing our stories and experiences along the way!

Mario Platt: Evolution-informed Security Strategy

What an absolute privilege it was to host LearnWardleyMapping Professional Member @madplatt! He sets us straight on strategy, security as a constraint vs an enabler, and The Four Problems we must address for an adequate 2020+ security posture.

If Mapping is the solution, what is the problem?

I’ve been wanting to understand what makes Wardley Mapping so incredibly useful to some and so completely inaccessible to others. After a conversation with Chris Donnelly, I offered the following prompt on Twitter: I share my initial thoughts in the video, but I really wanted to hear from the rest of you. Here are some […]

“Help” Is a Four-Letter Word

There is helpful help, and then there is unhelpful “help.” Far too much help seems to fall into the latter category, and when someone “helps” — when it’s not asked for, when it presupposes too many incorrect assumptions, and when the relationship is not fair and equitable — the social fabric breaks down and trust […]

How do you make decisions?

If you use mental models or thinking processes to make sense of things and make decisions, what are the ones you use most? And what are they like? Scroll down to share! I’ll post the findings at a later date, and I’m guessing you’ll learn about some helpful models you’ve never heard of before! Might […]

The Conditions for Community

The Conditions for Community There’s an old joke that says you only need two tools in life: Duct tape, for things that move but shouldn’t, and WD-40, for things that don’t move but should. I have both in my toolbox at home, along with a number of other, more specialized pieces of equipment. None invalidate […]

Evolve: A Quick Reference for Wardley Mapping

About two years ago, I was doing quite a bit of Wardley Mapping, and I found myself looking up the same parts of Simon’s blog over and over. At the time I was super interested in information microsites (single-topic sites like this one), so I built one to host the one thing I referenced most […]

Wardley Mapping on Kumu.io

I’ve noticed that quite a few people have been writing purpose-built software for Wardley Mapping, and lately I’ve been feeling inspired to join them! I had some extra time last Saturday, so I sat down at my laptop in the hopes of hacking together a fancy D3.js prototype. But after very lightly mapping my own […]

The Wardley Mapping Canvas

The Wardley Mapping Canvas provides just the right amount of visual structure to help mapping practitioners make quick progress and have a better learning experience while building their first maps. The canvas has been added to the official RealtimeBoard template library (yay!). However, at Map Camp 2018, someone very helpful (whoever you are, please say hello so […]

So you want to build a website

Every once in a while, I plan to share something I call a solution blueprint — a way to fulfill a particular business need that I think is universal enough to be offered as general advice for the current moment in time. Something to consider as a safe default. That doesn’t mean there won’t be […]

Intro to Wardley Mapping

A hard truth of decision-making is that complete information will never be available. We use tools, techniques, shorthands, and experience-laden aphorisms to fill in the gaps, but they remain inadequate in addressing uncertainty. Our individual coping mechanisms are bespoke, strange, and inconsistent. We struggle with self-contradiction over time. Decisions made tomorrow will unfold differently than […]

Deconstructing Ideas

Everything I’m Hoping Is in Your Elevator Pitch When I attend a pitch event, I sit with a notebook in my lap and sketch out a quick value chain of each product or solution while it is being described. At the end of each pitch, I write where I would focus first, were I to begin […]

The Five Focusing Steps for Human Systems

I don’t normally read textbooks just for fun. Ok, that’s not true. I wouldn’t normally read this textbook just for fun. It is, however, excellent reference material and worth a skim every once in a while. The textbook is Bill Dettmer’s The Logical Thinking Process, which aims to articulate and standardize the practices described by […]

Wardley Mapping Tools and Techniques

A current list of tools for Wardley Mapping is maintained over at LearnWardleyMapping.com. This post has two main sections: A semi-serious reflection on the problem space of tools for mapping, and then a fun overview of all sorts of mapping tools and techniques, informed by discussion and sharing that took place at the inaugural Map […]

Who Is the User, Really?

Thinking Globally When Constructing the Value Chain The Theory of Constraints teaches us the difference between local and global thinking with respect to systems and their performance. To think locally is to optimize each individual component of a system with the expectation that the overall result will be an optimized system. We know the opposite to […]

On Strategy

“Strategy” is an interesting word in that its absence of useful meaning is directly correlated with its frequency of use, as Dave Aron describes in his book, The Essence of Strategy: People put the word strategy next to other words in order to make them sound important, but are not really clear what the word […]

Batches and Iterations

The following is a rather unpolished glimpse into how we think about batch sizes and iterations. First, we expect our system to have a goal. For a software-building system made of people like ourselves, the goal is to deliver value in the form of working software. We think of “batches” as the units of work […]

Buffer Management for Meal Prepping

This post describes an attempt to apply theory practically (praxis) to solve a silly little problem. My wife and I are getting serious about cutting our restaurant spending, so we have been cooking large batches of food to store and eat throughout the week. Cooking in large batches like this is a practice known as […]

On Diversity

Just a few years ago, I would not have been able to articulate why organizational diversity matters. (I know that for a fact, because I once offered a barely adequate, fumbling answer during an interview. Despite somehow getting the job, I remained largely clueless for some time.) Times change, I’ve learned some things, and now […]

Hidden Complexities

Originally published September 24, 2016 I consider sense-making to be a component of Landscape and Doctrine (from Sun Tzu’s Five Factors), and so I am incorporating a short overview of Cynefin into an upcoming talk on strategy. While outlining, I toyed with a few examples for the various ontological domains and learned an unexpected lesson, […]

Wardley Mapping, A PowerPoint Template

UPDATE: A new template is available at LearnWardleyMapping.com. Check it out here. Originally published June 25, 2016 One particularly coherent approach to “strategy” involves using a map to pursue increased situational awareness from which to execute various forms of gameplay. This technique is known as Wardley Mapping, and I highly recommend reading through An Introduction to […]

Cutting Costs. Or, How to Pretend Complex is Simple.

Originally published March 20, 2016 Suppose a company discovers that its projected revenue is below original expectations for reasons outside of its direct control. The bottom-line numbers are going to look bad, so something must be done immediately. Cost-cutting measures will be explored, and when every budget has been squeezed and nothing else remains, the […]

Cynefin, Culture Change as Complex

Originally published February 27, 2016 The Cynefin framework (created by Dave Snowden) reveals that Complicated or Simple approaches break down and can only succeed by complete accident in the Complex domain, because causality is only clear in retrospect. From this basis, let’s briefly refute the notion of culture change as Simple or Complicated. If you […]

Motivation Cycles

Originally published February 24, 2016 You could find the Abstract listening to hip hop My pops used to say, it reminded him of Bebop I said, well daddy don’t you know that things go in cycles Way that Bobby Brown is just amping like Michael — Excursions (A Tribe Called Quest) I work in a challenging environment […]

Visual WIP

Originally published February 21, 2016 I have been searching for a temporary work visualization method to adequately convey both how a given process works and the WIP (Work In Progress) within it at any given moment. With eventual improvement set as a goal for the former, a prerequisite for any productive discussion is a common […]

The Four Questions

Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt, in his lecture titled Beyond the Goal: Theory of Constraints, describes the necessity of answering the following questions when adopting a technology: What is the power of the technology? What limitation does it diminish? What rules helped us accommodate the limitation? What rules should we use now? As a cofounder of […]