Everyone has a unique navigation system. Following what others have done as a recipe is not the path toward developing your own originality. If I had spoken with the owner of a local lumber yard, a soccer mom, a government official for neighborhood engagement, I would have gotten very different stories about how they go about fixing and replacing a broken window, what was important to each of them about the materials they used or their approach to solving the problem. The common elements would have been the intelligence categories and that each category would be rich with unique information.
This Navigation System is a way for novices to look at and learn from anyone and learn from their unique map. You will see what any Navigation System can and can’t produce by looking at the outcomes it generates. You can better understand the relationships between intelligence categories. You can better understand the differences between craftsmen of all kinds, across multiple disciplines. You can better understand what those with expertise are trying to explain as they try to teach. Most importantly, you must develop your own Navigation System based on creating learning opportunities. Creating a Navigation System is a conscious effort and the beginning of a personal practice in becoming a craftsman.
Using the Navigation System below, we can summarize Eric’s Navigation System. We can collect and give meaning to what he shares about his learning and development in woodturning. As students of craftsmanship, we can use this Navigation System to understand the often abstract, contradictory and sometimes inconsistent things that Eric, like most people with significant expertise, says as he describes his approach to learning.
The chapters that follow describe the intelligence categories in greater detail, illustrate how a map evolves over time, and show how teachers and students can use them to enhance and focus their efforts. Here, I’ll summarize how a Navigation System can make craftsmanship, in any profession, a real option—especially for those who find it disappointingly intangible.
The concept of craftsmanship, as it is applied to leadership in organizations, is fragmented. Craftsmanship, as we have been discussing it in this book, refers to the advanced capability of a whole person—from inner purpose and identity, to tactical skills, to applied experience. Employees are often valued simply based on their technical skills. For development, they rely on resources such as: self-help books, seminars, formal employee trainings, advanced degrees, internships or special projects, and hard knocks. These resources are typically driven by the fundamental belief that if someone achieves craft, if their talent separates them from the pack, it is driven by innate talent rather than developed capability. As a result, they place little emphasis on the design of learning and development of capabilities that would develop a craft. Learning designed around the Navigation System idea has several advantages that standard learning and development strategies do not.
The Navigation System illustrates previously hidden or opaque workings that generate craftsmanship.
Each Navigation System has the same intelligence Orientation, Abstraction, and Application categories. Understanding what these categories are and how they are influenced helps us recognize what we need to learn, identify gaps, and design experiences to fill them. The Navigation System serves as a tool to document, discover, and develop effective personal knowledge.
A Navigation System provides an emotional grounding that counteracts the initial frustrating, discouraging and disappointing experiences created by our initial clumsy, inexperienced efforts.
Emotional reactions to novelty, uncertainty, and personal incompetence tend to distract, confuse, and mislead us as we try to develop a new skill. The Navigation System helps focus attention where it is more productive. Each category of intelligence requires a focused learning approach, as do the relationships between categories. Obstacles can be anticipated, so learning can be targeted, challenges can be appropriate, and intelligence can be integrated. Ideas learned intellectually need to be grounded in experience if they are to be effectively internalized. Equally important, the relevance of what is learned is determined by the identity and outcomes that motivate the action. The alignment of these three intelligence categories produces the integrated awareness and action that make craftsmanship possible.
The Navigation System turn the frustrations of early efforts into valuable information.
Rather than interpreting failures are a sign of incompetence or indicators of a lack of potential, errors reveal incomplete knowledge, inconsistency in experiences, and breaks in connections between intelligence categories. Different approaches are required for each intelligence category. Knowing where and how to invest time in learning or gaining experience is helpful for any learner.
Using a Navigation System to negotiate failure harnesses the conflicting forces that drive Expertise and Ingenuity.
Advocates of expertise typically value reliability, efficiency, and automatic skillfulness. They seek to minimize surprises in order to reduce mistakes caused by lack of skill or erratic events. Advocates of ingenuity value openness and creativity. They seek to abandon constraints and predictability to escape errors caused by blind adherence to routine and dated practices. When you focus on a Navigation System for Craftsmanship instead of merely avoiding errors and accomplishing predetermined goals, you are more able to respond to events or qualities you didn’t anticipate with greater skill and openness. When the development of a Navigation System is your focus, learning is driven by the enthusiastic pursuit of new experiences and can be further refined.
A Navigation System can be used to help you understand what drives change, and how to manage it.
No one likes to change. Change is threatening. When we feel threatened, we are less open to new ideas. Change is, however, unavoidable. Three kinds of change drive progress in craftsmanship. Changes in Experience come from incremental and adaptive challenges during hours of practice in a given medium. Changes in Tools and Skills come over time through large and small revisions to how experience is understood and organized. When changes in Orientation Intelligence occur, they often bring transformation. Mental models begin to shift.[ii] Fundamental beliefs shift enabling new ways of seeing and being in the world. All three kinds of change are unavoidable once craftsmanship is established as the primary goal. Explicit development in each Intelligence Category allows you the ability to anticipate and even seek the kind of growth that will help you level up in all three Intelligence Categories.
To this point, we’ve concentrated on a few practitioners who employ subjective skills and intelligence, and we’ve introduced the underlying knowledge that enables their craft. Next up, we will go directly into the workings of the Navigation System and understand the elements and forces that make it run.
This post is part of a series #LookToCraftsmen set for publication in 2019.