We may be on target with the strategic plan, but off course from what is really important. More maps and abstractions are not the answer. As management scholar Robert Stacey points out, the trouble with standard maps (such as strategies, plans, procedures and policies) is that they can be used only to identify routes that others have travelled before; they make sense only for managing the known. Many leaders believe if they manage more tightly, administer more closely, contract more thoroughly, and systematise more comprehensively, the organisation will function better. However they may simply become slaves to the policy and journey with blind obedience to the map. While many leaders today are adept at working with the known, not everything can be plotted to account for uncertainty, the unknown and change, and then extrapolated to harness and control the future.
Maps flatten our view of reality and reduce what is multi-dimensional to an abstract form, which can stifle the dynamic and creative responsiveness needed to meet and adjust to the world as it is.
Wayfinding works by recognising and responding to what is happening as it unfolds. The power of wayfinding is that it synthesises many intelligences – not just rational, abstract knowledge. Sphere intelligence is what predominates. By being fully involved and perceptive, the wayfinder responds with direct participation, not from a detached distance. The skills of the wayfinder call for deep appreciation of and attendance to intuition and nuance. In doing so the wayfinder sees things that others may not.
Sphere intelligence commands the full use of all faculties and to collect different strands of knowledge and weave them together. Leaders need to be adept at seeing systems and to have the perceptiveness to understand relational rhythms and patterns of the big picture. Leaders who work with sphere intelligence can look beyond short-term goals and the hierarchies of priorities, and operate beyond the narrow corridors of logic and rationalism, by also drilling down into nuance and subtlety, and working with ambiguity and uncertainty.