When you are feeling overwhelmed, fatigued or looking for the good old days it’s tempting to revert back to simplistic solutions. In complexity, those will back fire. Instead, develop cognitive agility. Look at the situation through different perspectives to see the wider view that makes more sense. It is a VERY sensory capacity much like the ancient wayfinders did when navigating vast stretches of ocean using their internal sensory capacity.

Wade Davis, in The Wayfinders, describes it this way:

“When cloud and mist obliterate the horizon, the navigator must orient the vessel by the feel of the water, distinguishing waves created by local weather systems, for example, from the swells generated by pressure systems far bygone the horizon. And these swells, in turn, must be differentiated from the deep ocean currents that run through the Pacific, and which can be followed with the same ease with which a terrestrial  explorer would follow a river to its mouth.  Expert navigators, like Mau, sitting alone in the darkness of the hull of a canoe, can sense and distinguish as many as five distinct wells moving through the vessel at  at any given time.

Local wave action is chaotic and disruptive. But the distant swells are consistent, deep and resonant pulses that move across the ocean from one star house to another, 180 degrees away, and thus can be used as yet another means of orienting the vessel in time and space. Should the canoe shift course in the middle of the night, the navigator will know simply from the change of the pitch and roll of the waves. Even more remarkable is the navigator’s ability to pull islands out of the sea. The truly great navigators such as Mau can identify the presence of distant atolls of islands bygone the visible horizon simply by watching the reverberation of waves across the hull of the canoe, knowing full well that every island group in the pacific has its own refractive pattern that can be read with the same ease with which a forensic scientist would read a fingerprint.”

Imagine a business executive able to sense and visualize shifts in the market, in the wider context of reality shaping the health of the economy and all life. Sense making in today’s world is a matter of developing sensory capacity.

The full article Accelerating Performance in Complexity is published on the Huffington Post. I’d love your feedback.


The global and business issues we face today require full employee engagement and a different thinking. Dawna loves to work collaboratively to evolve and transform workplaces to be more ‘fit’, agile and inspiring. By shifting perspective to expose the invisible elements creating routine results, clients gain the strength and clarity needed to remove barriers to growth. Intelligent and intuitive insights strengthen leadership capacity to use complexity fluently and grow beyond the limitations of profit to achieve greater prosperity and value. To activate a quantum leap in leadership, Dawna started the Evolutionary Provocateur podcast in 2008. Author of Decision Making for Dummies, a speaker and a tad nomadic, Dawna is currently working on using Virtual and Augmented Reality to accelerate business culture change and human potential. An original thinker, she brings personal experience with resilience and transformation to her leadership. www.FromInsightToAction.com


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: