Navigating Complexity – Part One

On the other hand, it is also equipped with a set of sails.  These flexible sheets extend high above the boat and capture the energy of the wind. A sailboat with its sails in place, but without a keel, would be tossed about, capriciously sensitive to every ebb and flow of breeze. It certainly couldn’t make any intentional progress because it would be subject to the vagaries of the wind.

Magical Navigation

However, when you equip the boat with a keel and a set of sails something magical happens.  The force of the keel to hold the boat in place works against the force of the sail to drive it onward, and the sailboat becomes steerable, moving forward at multiple angles to the wind and almost directly into it.  It is the dynamic tension between the forces that hold it back and the forces the move it that allow it to be steered and moving in intentional directions.

That same idea can be applied to our professional lives and our careers. There are forces that hold us back and keep us on track and opposing forces that drive us forward. The forces that hold us back provide stability and support and anchor parts of our business and lives in unchanging commitments.  The forces that move us forward provide energy and power to change and adjust our efforts.

Managing a business or a career through these turbulent times requires the intentional acquisition and manifestation of certain disciplines, character traits, and practices that act like keels.  They hold us down and provide stability in a chaotic world. At the same time, we need to build disciplines, competencies, and processes that act like sails for our lives and businesses.  These provide us the ability to act quickly and power us forward.

Five Keels

I’m proposing these five keels that we should intentionally build into our characters and our corporate culture if we are going to successfully navigate these chaotic and turbulent times.  These are processes, principles, and character traits that hold us down.

Six Sails

And, on the other side of the ship, I’d propose these six sails that empower us to move forward quickly and intentionally.

If we are going to navigate through these complex, rapidly changing times, we need to build these sails and keels into our organizations and our personal character.

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be drilling deeper into each of these keels and sails.  Stay tuned.


Dave Kahle
Dave Kahle
YOUR business can be much more than just a money-making enterprise. Helping you achieve that potential is Dave Kahle’s passion. He has been helping business grow for 30 years. The author of The Good Book on Business, he’s written 12 other books, which have been published in eight languages and distributed around the world, and has presented in 47 states and 11 countries. He has personally and contractually worked with over 459 companies, and touched thousands of others through his seminars, speaking engagements, and webinars. You’ll find him challenging your paradigms and prompting you to think more deeply.

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  1. Hi David, this is an interesting read. I agree with you is flooded with new changes and their new choices. More variety means more entropy and spontaneity increases accordingly.

    What you concluded with makes perfect sense “The secret is in the dynamic tension between two opposing forces”. It is quite interesting. In my new post submitted to BIZCATALYST is on leaders growing on two opposite directions and performing two heavy and light duties. We live in a world shifting towards more spontaneity and we still keep the need to keep our balance between the two opposing directions.