Terrain Maps are described by the perpendicular intersection of two continuums - one horizontal and one vertical. These parings of x- and y-axes result in a structure - the terrain map - that can describe the relationship of forces in markets, industries, and business strategies. Exhibit 9 above illustrates the primary structure of a terrain map.
The basic terrain map begins with the x- and y-axis continuums. Positions to the top and right are represented as superior to positions to the right and bottom. This is so not just for Diagram 5, but also universally in the map’s structural methodology.
Setting up the terrain map structure to conform to this model of superior and inferior positions starts with the continuums: the x- and y-axis. This is accomplished by describing the continuum end-points with labels that conform to the model.
For the x-axis, the labels static and dynamic are used to describe the left and right end-points respectively. The “static” label describes a state that is motionless, and without momentum. The “dynamic” describes a state is that active, and the opposite of static.
Competitively, the dynamic end of the continuum is superior to the static end regardless of the metric used - revenue, growth, market share, etc. As a result, competitively inferior values will consistently fall towards the left end (static), while competitively superior values will fall towards the right end (dynamic).
For the y-axis, the labels specific and abstract are used to describe the bottom and top end-points respectively. The “specific” label describes a state that is obvious and generic - such as a commodity. The “abstract” label describes a state that is unique and differentiated - such as a powerful brand.
Competitively, the abstract end of the continuum is superior to the specific end regardless of the metric used - revenue, growth, market share, etc. As a result, competitively inferior values will fall toward the bottom of the continuum (specific), while competitively superior values will be towards the top of the continuum (abstract).
The resulting terrain map consists of four quadrants (or “grounds) that - read clockwise from the bottom left - may be described as: specific-static, static-abstract, abstract-dynamic, dynamic-specific. These relationships are illustrated in Diagram 6 below:
Each of the for “grounds” conforms to unique meanings and implications depending upon their placement. vSente has assigned names to each of these four regions, including the single point where they intersect. They are labeled (clockwise from bottom left): Mercenary, Exploratory, Expeditionary, Provisionary, and Intersecting.
The strategies and tactics competitors adopt will vary depending upon the nature of the terrain they currently occupy, and plan to occupy. Exhibit 11 visualizes the implications of these competitive terrains.