Surfs up

My last post here talked about surfing as a metaphor for faciliation/management. Graham Hill left a comment pointing to this from John Hagel: Innovating on the Edge of Big Waves. I loved the narrative about the surfing experience though I notice feeling a bit wary of some of Hagel’s conclusions – can’t put my finger on it but just feel that something rather rich and wonderful is being reduced to something merely difficult. (There’s a post brewing in my mind about how much talk about innovation seems to operate on the basis of scarcity rather than abundance.)

Hagel references a famous surf break Mavericks. Funnily enough, this is the one Harrison Owen cites in his forthcoming book, Wave Rider – Leadership for High Performance in a Self-Organizing World. Harrison’s posted the opening chapter here. Here’s a key para:

The Wave Rider’s secret is a deep awareness of the fundamental self-organizing nature of our world. This awareness may be largely intuitive or very conscious, but the net effect is the capacity to align oneself and one’s work with the primal force of self-organization thereby leveraging its enormous power. Concurrently, the Wave Rider is keenly aware of the limitations of his or her own powers, particularly the power of control. Recognizing the mind boggling complexity of the chaordic forces at play (thank you Dee Hock) the Wave Rider understands that total control, at least of the sort that many seem to seek, is but a fond hope, verging on the delusional.

Hat tip: Jack Martin Leith


1 thought on “Surfs up

  1. Daryl Cook

    Thanks Johnnie. I’m not much of a surfer (i had a lesson once) but I love the metaphor as it relates to facilitation and self-organisation. I wrote a post late last year re-telling a Kelly Slater story.


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