Before the Internet, life seemed simpler, easier to grasp. People in positions of power gave their employees check lists to complete. And they would do their job and wait for next tasks. The comments in those days went something like this: "Whew, got that done, just checked another box off my list."

Nowadays, life is increasingly unpredictable and even the idea of leaders with all the right responses seems old-fashioned. This is the big question searching for answers now, "How do I participate responsibly in a system almost impossible to predict."

The excitement of today is that anyone with an idea can make it come alive. You can create it, publish it, pitch it, without proposals or permission. And, without a lot of money. It's the end of the MBA era and the beginning of the design innovation era.

The reason for a compass not a map is...

Maps are stationary, may be dated and causes frustration when inaccurate.

Maps provide a description; a compass provides vision and direction.

Maps can slow you down when the path is not clear.

Maps cannot show you how to get on that road not traveled.

Maps are poor indicators of what is unfamiliar.

The older command and control style of leading is about maps. It's about going on a chosen course and staying there, no deviations.

Compass leadership is about a process of discovery. It's about learning as you go along. It's about more than one right path. It's about hunches and taking chances.

In the fascinating book, Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future, Joi Ito and Jeff Howe show, with great understanding, why the compass wins over the map (even the GPS). The future is impossible to even guess and those once solid institutions like education and banking are being challenged daily.

Here are the nine principles in the book that are vital to consider in these precarious and confusing times.

Compasses over maps

Disobedience over compliance

Pull over push

Emergence over authority

Learning over education

Resilience over strength

Risk over safety

Practice over theory

Systems over objects

I you want to win, and we all do, the advantage will go to the leaders whose organizations have the best strategic-thinking compasses and the best sensitivity around customer changes in perception of the times.

You do best when you stay ahead of the pack by traveling light with a small sturdy compass in your hand.

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Published on: Apr 24, 2017