The map is not the Territory

The map is just a model, not reality!

MMNC - [Mental Model for No-Coders]

A bi-weekly curated newsletter figuring out “WHY” behind “WHAT” & “HOW” using mental models for No-Coders by Chandra Prakash (@cp18101985)

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A social media profile of a person [is map] not the person itself [territory].

A profile picture of a person [is map] not the person itself [territory].

An advertisement [is map] not the product [territory].

In 1931, mathematician Alfred Korzybski presented a paper in which he introduced the idea that the map is not the territory.1 A map always comes with certain inherent problems. Here are some of its limitations:

  • A map can be wrong without you realizing it.

  • A map is by definition a reduction of the territory, which means it leaves out certain important information.

  • A map needs interpretation, which is a process that often leads to mistakes.

  • A map can be outdated and represent something that has changed or no longer exists.

The distinction between map and territory is a useful metaphor for the differences between impression and reality. What you think something is like differs from what it’s really like. [Source]

When map and terrain differ, follow the terrain.

How it applies to you?


  1. You belong to a niche;

  2. You are well aware of its pain points';

  3. You know you can deliver a solution to it from No-Code

and in the ecstasy of creativity and entrepreneurship, you created a solution to it by investing your time and money but when gone in the market to sell it, crickets.

No one wants to pay for that solution. This means the solution you created is not worth spending money on for your users.

Here you used a map [your perception] without knowing/understanding the territory you are going in.


Validate your product idea with your users and ask whether they’ll be interested in paying for the solution.

Even if few [2-3] show interest and are ready to pay for it, create an MVP [minimum viable product] and sell it to them.

I believe in overdelivering, so let’s not stop here.

Now contact those initial users and ask for suggestions/feedback of what they liked and where can you improve.

Write it down and deliver accordingly.

Once you delivered on their expectation, ask for their recommendation to paste it on your landing page. Now that your landing page has recommendations of real people, raise the price of your product for new users.

The above case is just one example. There can be many other similar cases, where it may apply.

For example:
You are scaling your product [going from version 1 to version 2] and you didn’t keep your end-users in the loop of what you are building. You might end up building something which is not at all required for them. This means you used the map in your head without actually knowing the territory you are going in.

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