On Pioneers, Settlers, Town Planners and Theft - Simon Wardley

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 @swardley 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:

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

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


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: