Lessons to be Learned from Ancient Polynesian Navigators about Steering Your Nonprofit
Updated: Oct 18, 2018
If you love a thing, set it free, so in that spirit, I’m setting QL3 Strategies’ logo free and hoping the world loves it as much as I do. I am a sailor and like my patron saint Jimmy Buffet, I “dream of the ocean.” A skill that is central to safely moving from one place to another is navigation. Human-made satellites, the Internet, and sophisticated electronics make navigating from point-to-point so straightforward that captains with little traditional navigation skill may safely make voyages, as long as the technology does not fail. For thousands of years, Polynesian navigators crossed huge expanses of the ocean using knowledge of the stars; observations of wind, waves, animals and the weather; and no instrumentation. The Polynesian system is known as wayfinding. At its core, wayfinding is arriving at your destination by knowing where you departed from. Traditional navigation is fixated on a level of precision made possible through technology and often at the exclusion of other relevant data. My favorite example of technological over-reliance is “The Office” when the character Michael drives his car into a lake because the GPS tells him to keep going forward despite signs, railings and other people in the car telling him to stop. While I love and use my GPS and various sailing apps, I admire that wayfinding emphasizes the human component of navigation. Wayfinding requires full-immersion in every moment of the journey. I have no illusions that I will ever have the encyclopedic knowledge of the marine environment or the decades of training necessary to become a Polynesian navigator but, I fully embrace the idea that an individual or organization is at the center of the journey and that the navigator synthesizes all the available data to not only determine the current location but what actions are needed to arrive at the destination. QL3 Strategies may not be able to guide your boat across oceans without instrumentation, but we have all the knowledge and capacities to put your organization on the right route to fulfilling its mission. Sign-up for our blog and read our articles covering all aspects of nonprofit management. Contact us, and we can get together to discuss how we can help get you where you want to be.
What’s in our logo?
“A sidereal (“star”) compass, the modern Hawaiian Star Compass is based upon traditional models of orientation and direction setting. The framework for the star compass is a circle whose edge represents the visual horizon, where sky touches land or sea. The user, at the center of the circle, is represented by the image of a bird in flight, reinforcing the concept that a bird is never lost, but always guided by an internal compass that leads to distant landfalls.” (UH Hilo Stories, ‘Imiloa’s navigator in residence and lead technician write about the Hawaiian Star Compass’ October 2017.)
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