Reboot: How Do Wayfinders Find Their Way?

Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fail. Some work. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.” ~Tom Peters

Some interesting responses to my last week’s post on the reboot theme. As I’ve mentioned, since March I’ve assigned themes to each month to focus my work. August’s theme is reboot or CNTRL+ALT+DEL.

August’s theme notes how past practices won’t necessarily move us forward in the COVID-disruptive economy; and that we need to pause and reflect on how we can be successful going forward.

I asked folks where they thought they needed to reboot — to rethink the opportunities, upgrades, and changes required for existing systems to function more effectively. The responses tended to be descriptions of their vacations at the beach; in the mountains. Places where they were able to unwind and relax before heading back into the fray.

One of us missed the point.

Either I wasn’t clear in what I meant by reboot, or the folks who responded didn’t grasp that reboot was about rethinking their usual way of doing business — to consider the upgrades and system changes as a result of Covid.

Wayfinders Thrive During a Reboot

In these disruptive times, the old ways of doing business, of conducting our careers, won’t work. We’ve entered uncharted waters that require a whole different set of competencies. The folks who thrive in these disruptive times are the wayfinders — those who can see ahead and around corners, and frame critical issues for action. They guide us through wicked problems — those that seem difficult to name and impossible to solve. And they’re comfortable that there may be more than one right path to resolution.

Wayfinders will shift their thinking that could lead to more innovative offerings to clients and customers. In essence, they’ll reinvent their organizations making them more competitive than ever before.

The Challenge for Wayfinders

Most people who matter — decision-makers, bosses, customers, clients — aren’t wayfinders. They know how to navigate through tame problems — to follow a prescribed path to solve well-defined challenges. They can be overwhelmed by today’s disruption; and can be challenged with finding new, unforeseen paths forward.

Wayfinders often require validation from the decision-makers they serve. Because they can’t often see what’s necessary to move forward, decision-makers may not be able to provide that validation.

One approach for wayfinders is to frame the vision of the challenge — provide awareness of the shape of the challenge decision-makers face and how it impacts them and their specific audiences (bosses and customers). Use the WIIFM principle (What’s In It For Me) to show decision-makers the magnitude of the challenge.

Then provide clarity about the challenge. Again, point out specific implications for specific audiences. Create a path forward. It may be a “walk a mile to see a mile” algorithm; the key is to illuminate those initial first steps. The audience needs to see the path; they don’t necessarily have to see it in its entirety.

Empower the audience with guidance and advice all along the way. Keep them engaged so that they’ll stay on the path and will go along when the path veers unpredictably elsewhere. Get the audience to trust you as the guide.

What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There

World renown executive coach, Marshall Goldsmith, notes that many of us have habits and beliefs that hold us back, and in fact, work against us. Interestingly, the more successful people are, the tougher it is for them to change.

Goldsmith mentions that that people will change their behaviors only if they can see that it’s in their best interest. The trick is to determine what matters most to the decision-makers and demonstrate how their motivations will be directly affected by proposed new approaches.

Are You A Wayfinder?

Can you see what your organization needs to change to reinvent itself and thrive in the next normal?

Can you see how you need to shift your thinking in order for YOU to thrive going forward?

Let me know your thoughts. Send an email to I’d love to hear from you.

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Image copyright:  Marina Pissarova