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Source: Simon Wardley
Published: March 2015

Pioneers, Settlers, Town Planners

Circulated: July 16, 2020

This framework describes a way of understanding the unique combination of characteristics and aptitude needed to bring products and services to life.


  • bold thinkers who come up with new, exciting ideas
  • fail often; you wouldn’t trust what they build
  • innovative ideas uncovered are passed onto the Settlers

example: Jack Kilby who invented the integrated circuit (aka microchip)


  • they build trust and understanding by listening to customers
  • generate revenue while finding product-market fit
  • turn ideas from Pioneers into a product

example: Henry Edwards Roberts who invented the first PC (Altair 8800)

Town Planners

  • take the Settlers’ product and scale it to reach more customers
  • you can trust the quality of their product
  • utilize economies of scale to make things faster and more efficient
  • they operate the services that pioneers build upon

example: Apple Computer inventing the Macintosh

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