When it comes to navigation in times of high dynamics and change, it was pilot John Boyd who developed a revolutionary and simple concept, the OODA loop: observe, orient, decide and act. The first steps are crucial, he said, when you fly in your plane with a speed of 900 km/h, upside down and 100 meter above a mountainous landscape. Is this not the situation where we as society are in today? After Boyd many scientists, experts and advisers developed a myriad of concepts, frameworks and approaches to tackle change and to find navigation in a volatile world.
The Romans already had a god for transitions, gates, passages and doorways. They called him Janus, derived form iānus, meaning in Latin ‘arched passage, doorway’. Can we say that we find ourselves in a doorway, a gate? And can we say we need to find our path, i.e. through developing a circular economy, caring for digital transformation, implementing energy transition, innovating water management, tackling a first grade health crisis, dealing with inequality, racism and poverty? Yes, we can.
We are in a doorway, maybe on a threshold towards a new world. Janus is our ‘man’, our god. We need to give him more thought in our souls, not worship him, and ask him advice in the steps to come.
I think I timed the moment (exactly 10 years after my father died) and find the right angle of sunlight, beaming (was it actually him?) through this work of art at our home. Janus looking forward, Janus looking backward and in reflection its metaperspective. The art of navigation is alike. Observe by looking forward and backward, and orient where you are by reflecting on this, decide and act.
Janus and the art of navigation. Janus is presiding over all beginnings and transitions. Should we ask him for his wisdom again? And if we do, let’s not forget John.