Maptio update: What we’re building and who it’s for

A little preview of the Maptio prorotype

Update 24 Oct 2017: You can also see Maptio explained in four screenshots.

We’re making steady progress building our product, Maptio. We’re working closely with a small number of early customers to validate the idea before we begin to scale up. There are hundreds of people registered waiting to try it out, so in the meantime, for anyone interested in what we’re up to, here’s a bit more about what we’re building, who it’s for, and how you can get involved.

The context

There are a growing number of companies looking for new ways to organise and work without traditional management hierarchies. They want to create workplaces that are more human, without a culture of power-over-people. They are looking for autonomy, agility, accountability and alignment. And they are focussed on doing something worthwhile and purposeful in the world.

You can see evidence of this in the extraordinary growth of the Agile movement, which places an emphasis on self-managing teams and customer-focus over command-and-control management and ceaseless pursuit of shareholder value. Agile is so successful for innovation and product development that the Agile mindset is spreading to the whole organisation because an Agile team in a traditional corporation creates an awkward tension in the form of a clash of values and priority. I have no doubt that the most innovative companies who focus relentlessly on serving real needs in the world, not on their own shareholders will win out in the end.

It’s also evidenced through the growth and energy around movements like WorldBlu, ResponsiveOrg, Sociocracy, Holacracy, Source, and best-selling books like Reinventing Organisations. All of these movements have an individual angle on the future of organisations and work. They have their critics (including me) but they have more in common than they have differences. Ultimately and we’re all peers all on the same journey towards finding ways to do more good in the world and make work and organisations suck less.

Browsing through the wonderful journey that the guys from Corporate Rebels have been on, visiting a bucketlist of highly progressive companies around the world it’s plain to see the examples and inspirations are already out there. Almost every day I talk to founders want to be part of this change as they build their own companies.

The problems

There are countless ways to learn about building and leading traditional organisations, but the more progressive methods are still finding their feet.

Whilst some folks claim to have the perfect formula for a new operating model, the reality is far messier. It’s difficult. Many companies struggle to make the principles and ideals of a more progressive form of business actually bed in and work effectively in practice. There is no single, repeatable formula for success.

Jean-François Zobrist from FAVI (a much loved superstar example of a highly progressive organisation) encourages others to take inspiration from their journey, but not copy it because every organisation is unique.

When traditional management structures are removed, it can create huge amounts of autonomy and productivity but it can also create confusion and a loss of focus and accountability. Progressive companies can also take a long time to onboard new people. Without neat ‘reporting lines’ it can be unclear who’s responsible for what, and who you need to talk to when you want to make something happen.

It breaks my heart when I learn that a company has tried out a more progressive way to work, struggled, given up and become a traditional company. They miss out on so many benefits.

‘Google Maps for progressive organisations’

At Maptio we don’t pretend we have a magic formula either. Instead, we want to help organisations make a success of discovering their own way of doing things. So whilst the landscape in a progressive organisation might appear to be more messy, we think the most useful thing to have is a good map to make it all clearer. Our experience has been that with a map, shifts in behaviour naturally happen, and people find their way around the landscape much more easily.

Maptio lets you map and visualise who’s responsible for what, who’s helping who, and how the overall vision breaks down into the smaller ideas which contribute to it.

These are pretty universal things to keep clear in a progressive organisation however you ultimately end up doing it.

The map is visualised as nested circles, or you can view it as a tree structure, showing how the more specific parts of the vision flow into the overall vision. We’re also planning on adding a network view, so you can see how individuals are connected through the initiatives they’re either leading or supporting.

Unlike other tools, Maptio doesn’t have a specific organisational dogma associated with it. It doesn’t tell you how you have to work, how you have to organise projects, roles or tasks. It will even allow you to use your own terminology so whether you like to work in teams, squads, circles or swarms you can use Maptio to visualise it.

We have a belief that tools for organising the work itself should be chosen by the people doing the work. So rather than creating yet another online collaboration or project management tool, Maptio will integrate and link to the many tools already available. So if different parts of the organisation want to use Trello, Basecamp, Asana, Slack or any other tool then they can do that. Maptio simply allows you to have one overall map so you don’t get lost in all that diversity. I sometimes call it an organisational operating system that doesn’t tell anyone how they have to operate.

Who it’s for

We’re starting out very specific. We want to serve creative, tech and consulting companies with at least 12 and up to 40 (which will grow soon to 150) people. This is the market I know best and it’s an area where many founders are naturally attracted to exploring new ways of organising and working. I’m sure it will have broader appeal than this and we won’t turn away customers from other sectors, but starting out very focussed is a good thing. In the future we will certainly look at serving much larger progressive organisations too if there is a demand.

We’re not trying to convert anybody. We want to serve those who are already committed to building an organisation in a progressive way. We want to make their journey smoother, ease some of their frustrations and give them the best chance of creating a truly remarkable, progressive organisation.

Get access to try Maptio

If you’d like early, pre-release access to Maptio, just register on our landing page. We’re working our way through the list, and those registered will have priority before Maptio is launched. If you have a really pressing need then book a call with me and I’ll see if we can bump you up the list.

Other ways to get involved

Maptio is getting interest both from people directly running progressive organisations as well as the consultants who help them on their journey. If you’re a consultant considering Maptio for your own clients then let’s have a call and I’ll provide you with backup support as you test it with a real organisation.

I’m always interested in talking to people running progressive organisations. I’d like to hear about the problems you face in doing that, and any ideas for the product so I can feed that insight into our product development process. This will help us make sure we build something that’ll give you real value. Please book a call with me or send me an email (tom at maptio dot com.)

Once we’ve validated the product idea we’ll be looking for investment so we can get the team working on it full-time, and move faster. We’ll be looking for investors who want to back a team committed to building a profitable company for the long-term where the focus is on creating positive impact in the world by advancing the movement of progressive, purposeful organisations. If that sounds like you then you please email me directly (tom at maptio dot com) or book a call and we can start a conversation.


Tom Nixon is the founder of Maptio and is also available for coaching and consulting for founders building progressive organisations.

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