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Pioneers, Settlers, and Town Planners

  • Article Date: March 01, 2015
  • Last Edit: September 28, 2020

The full blog post is titled On Pioneers, Settlers, Town Planners and Theft by Simon WardleySimon Wardley
Twitter: @swardley
Creator of [[Wardley Maps]]
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The concept of Pioneers, Settlers, and Town Planners is something that I share with many people in thinking about their organizations. I learned it from Simon Wardley in the linked article, and have been sharing it ever since.

I find it a really useful way to think about the role of people within an organization, and what a person is best suited for. I am a Pioneer-to-Settler kind of guy.

Simon has written about the concept much earlier than the linked 2015 post (circa 2005 - 2006), including this article where he sources it back to Robert X. Cringely’s book, where it is called Commandos, Infantry, and Police:

http://blog.gardeviance.org/2014/11/bimodal-it-is-long-hand-for-snafu.html

And one more with all the mapping and diagrams laid out:

http://blog.gardeviance.org/2012/06/pioneers-settlers-and-town-planners.html

Jeff Atwood aka Coding Horror / Stack Overflow / Discourse wrote about that way back in 2004:

https://blog.codinghorror.com/commandos-infantry-and-police/

As I was driving home, I found myself thinking about a favorite section of the book Accidental Empires, by longtime computer journalist Robert X. Cringely. Originally published in 1993, it’s getting a little long in the tooth, but it still contains a lot of great insights about the personalities that drove innovation in silicon valley – from a guy who personally knew many of the players.

In the chapter “On The Beach”, Cringely talks about the three distinct groups of people that define the lifetime of a company: Commandos, Infantry, and Police: