Scouting, Reconnaisance, and the Avant-garde

Maps are a good thing. They help you avoid difficult areas, or prepare for them. They make it possible to weigh the advantages of the long route vs the short one. And when you are faced with unplanned interruptions, they can get you where you need to go in short order.

Mapping the territory of change is easier said than done. An adequate representation must take into account varieties of intelligence: individual and collective, logistical and political, cultural and technical. 

The best way I know to get a good layout of the land is to talk to people.  I prefer a systematic approach to help me get a grip on what is where.  I also rely a great deal on intuition, my own and the people I speak with.  I like to scout, gather intelligence, and explore the periphery.

Scouting is about exploring the way ahead, going into the unknown to discover a safe way forward. Reconnaissance is gathering information useful to achieve advantage for the sake of engagement. And avant-garde, in its common English usage, refers to those who are innovative and experimental.

All three are about preparing for the future, seeking to understand what is coming up ahead.
Scouts deliberately go into the frontier. They take risks so their people can prepare for what is likely to come, including progress along the trail.

Conducting reconnaissance in the military sometimes means going behind enemy lines, a risky proposition to say the least. But, it justifies the effort and potential high cost with a wealth of information that generates significant advantage.

The avant-garde is known for it strange forays into the fringe, where glimpses of the future can be caught mingled with false starts and random bits of creative expression. Experiments in art provide new and different perspectives that foreshadow social trends, innovations, and new ways of being.

Purposefully venturing into unknown to gather useful perspectives is not for the feint of heart, but the payoffs can be immense. 

By talking to people who see things differently, offer other perspectives and critiques, you can map the territory of your change as it is perceived by your most valuable players. This allows you to chart challenges and opportunities, describe what may be needed to successfully navigate relationships, negotiations, and results.

- Seth Kahan, VisionaryLeadership.com

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