Dynamic Steering

By Paul R. Scheele Ph.D. | Lead

Have you ever heard that an airplane is off-course most of the time?

That’s partially true, and the reality of navigation and course correction can give leaders clues on how to achieve goals most efficiently.

It is true that navigation to a destination is rarely a straight line. During the journey we must steer “dynamically” making small course corrections based on feedback.

Steering an airplane, boat, car, or bicycle we will be on course most effectively when our feedback is rapid and clear.

Dynamic steering as an analogy for leadership can be a valuable tool for guiding a complex adaptive system like a team or organization.

On the trajectory toward an established objective, we need three points of reference to navigate:

  1. Where we started from
  2. Where we are going to, and
  3. The accurate location of any other point in-between.

If we can get a line of sight to those 3 points, we can “triangulate” to determine our exact location, and steer effectively to our destination.

When I began flying small aircraft in the 1970s, navigation required calculating location on a map with coordinates from radio beacons. The task required a lot of attention, time, and effort.

Eventually, the global positioning satellites and GPS devices began doing the calculations for us to make navigation in our vehicles automatic. But when it comes to goal achievement, we’ve got to do the work ourselves.

Effective navigation to our goals requires that we triangulate, rapidly and often. Think of your goal trajectory as a scale from 1 to 10 on which 1 is your starting point and 10 is your endpoint. At any moment in time you can think about where you are right now on that scale. We’ll call that your “present state.” One step up that scale can be your next “desired outcome.”

As you take actions to move from your present state to your desired outcome, you will get feedback that lets you know if you made progress in the right direction or not. Feedback lets you adjust your next move. Whatever worked, do more of it. Whatever didn’t work, do something different. You are dynamically steering! The more rapid and accurate the feedback, the easier it is to effectively respond.

Dynamic steering gives you options for effectively your objectives. Rather than trying to “predict and control” the movement of your organization, use feedback and awareness to “sense and respond.”

Action Steps
Think of your current goal achievement efforts as a dynamic steering exercise along a scale from 1 to 10. Take frequent pauses to triangulate on where you are right now. Make small course corrections based on rapid, accurate feedback.
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© Paul R. Scheele, Ph.D. | Scheele Learning Systems | All Rights Reserved