Playbook A1: Pathfinding Introduction



Today’s world of rapidly accelerating complexity and change requires an evolutionary, ever-adapting approach to working together. Enter Pathfinding and the Pathfinder Protocol!

Pathfinding is stakeholder collaboration for the age of complexity – an operating system for network-based collaboration.

The success of all strategic or change (and increasingly operational) initiatives has never depended more on effective network-based collaboration between individuals, teams, and the broader working ecosystem, even when communication between them is delayed, distributed, or fragmented.

Traditional hierarchical and even matrix-driven management structures are limited in their ability to meet the modern requirements for such connectivity, flexibility, and adaptability. Hierarchical and matrix-based structures also struggle to enable employees or contributors to understand how the organization works, particularly when organizational focus shifts so frequently.

As organizational management rapidly evolves to match the complexity of effective execution, several approaches and fields of study have emerged to understand these challenges, such as ‘Complexity Theory and Organizations; or ‘Complex Adaptive Systems’ (CAS).

CAS draws on research in natural sciences that examines uncertainty and non-linearity, while complexity theory emphasizes interactions and feedback loops that drive change and evolution within organizational systems and networks. Organizations and ecosystems can be considered complex adaptive systems or networks, where co-evolution often occurs at the edge of chaos.

Maintaining a balance between flexibility and stability is crucial to both avoiding organizational failure in the medium to long term and keeping pace with broader market changes. To cope with turbulent markets, businesses have always relied on creativity, agility, and innovation. However, to enable such adaptability, the organization needs to have sufficient decentralized, non-hierarchical network structures.

The Waypoint © ‘Pathfinder’ protocol has been developed as a first-in-class ‘collective sensemaking and coordination’ protocol, which enables distributed sets of individuals and teams to best make sense of their network (ecosystem), prioritize steps, and effectively guide decision-making towards targeted outcomes, across even the most complex or fast-paced working environments.

These three core pillars represent the foundational principles that we believe are necessary to collaborate effectively in today’s business environments, and are supported in two ways, via The People Mindset and the Technical Infrastructure.

The People Mindset refers to the cultural and behavioral aspects that should be cultivated within an organization or ecosystem to fully leverage the potential of the Pathfinder protocol. It emphasizes openness to change, a commitment to sharing and transparency, and a willingness to embrace uncertainty as a source of innovation. The right mindset ensures that individuals are not only adaptable but also proactive in seeking out opportunities amidst complexity or noise.

The Technical Infrastructure refers to a systemized set of tools that help capture, analyze, and visualize data; facilitate communication across distributed teams; and allow for the seamless coordination of actions, knowledge, and resources. With the right infrastructure in place, the principles of Pathfinding can be operationalized and scaled, ensuring that organizations remain agile and responsive.


The People Mindset

What is it? A set of 6 guiding organizational behaviors that we view as foundational to modern collaboration practice:

  • Outcome-Orientated: A clear focus on outcomes, over outputs/deliverables, anchors pathfinding efforts to value, impact & sustainability. Pathfinders work together towards a shared why, rather than on isolated technical excellence.
  • People-Powered: Stakeholder apathy or resentment can be a death sentence for complex initiatives. Pathfinding prescribes intelligent stakeholder engagement, early & often – to ensure ongoing feedback, enthusiasm & buy-in.
  • Adaptively-Defined: There is no one-size-fits-all process for collaborative excellence. Pathfinders know when and how to weave frameworks together, ensuring an evolutionary & iterative approach to solution development.
  • Evidence-Driven: Ego & opinion often influence key decisions throughout collaborative activities. Pathfinding promotes evidenced & peer-backed decision-making, distributing accountability across your entire organization or ecosystem.
  • Systemically-Observed: Businesses are complex living systems and launching new solutions today often fails. Pathfinders consider and anticipate the dynamic effects of initiatives to form conscious & connected viewpoints of what can be achieved.
  • Continuously-Evolved: Pathfinders recognize the ever-changing nature of collaboration. Rather than resisting change, they embrace evolution, ensuring processes remain relevant, resilient, and always aligned with the shifting landscapes of business and innovation.


The Technical Infrastructure

What is it? A first-in-class ICT protocol for network-based or ‘collective’ collaboration. This infrastructure has been designed to facilitate human-machine interactions in accordance with the three protocol pillars:

  • Collective Sensemaking: Initiate and connect feedback loops between interdependent knowledge elements leading to critical insights and perspective shifts. This ensures that every member of a network or organization is empowered to contribute to understanding its evolving contexts and challenges. In a world where information is abundant but often fragmented, collective sensemaking is the process by which multiple perspectives and data sets are fused into a coherent whole. This holistic view allows for more accurate and timely responses to dynamic shifts in the environment, at any step.



  • Non-Linear Self-Organization: Collaboratively collate distributed process elements to form natural, scalable organizational patterns and sequences. This allows for emergent, adaptive process structures that can rapidly respond to changing circumstances and real-time usage feedback loops. By installing a scalable setup where teams and individuals can self-organize based on in-the-moment needs and expertise, organizations are better equipped to quickly pivot in response to new challenges, while still ensuring efforts are aligned with organizational goals and values, as well as other initiatives.


  • Network Graphing: Observe the natural relationships between the key artefacts, efforts, indicators, and outcomes that emerge over the course of all organizational efforts. This allows for the visualizing and understanding of the interconnectivity and flow of information within an organization or ecosystem. By graphing these connections, organizations can identify potential bottlenecks, areas of opportunity or risk, and untapped or underutilized resources. This visualization allows for a more targeted and strategic allocation of resources; as well as provides useful data for anticipating future scenarios and events.


  • Systemic Adaptive Evolution: Synthesize collective insights, dynamic structures, and network interrelations to foster proactive, adaptive, and evolutionary organizational structures. The convergence of the first three principles highlights the emergent properties of an organization that effectively harnesses Collective Sensemaking, Non-Linear Self-Organization, and Network Graphing. When these pillars are effectively implemented, the organization evolves into a system that is not merely reactive but adaptively proactive. This means that the organization does not only adapt to changes as they happen but is constantly in a state of evolution – anticipating shifts and refining itself. By developing systems where information flows are optimized, where teams can restructure based on immediate needs, and where a holistic understanding of the organization’s network is available on-demand, the organization becomes a highly adaptive entity – learning from its past, understanding its present, and shaping its future in an ever-evolving cycle of digital interactions. 


Finally, the protocol also examines how people (in particular large groups) and computers can interconnect to develop decentralized collaborative systems that allow both sides of this equation (humans and machines) to operate better than either could do alone – allowing for exponentially more powerful, augmented methods of working – individually, in groups, or across entire organizations and ecosystems. This can be considered an intersection of Collective intelligence, Collective Doing (Mass Collaboration); Machine Intelligence (Artificial Intelligence); and Machine Doing (Automation), but we’ll talk more about these concepts in other Playbooks.


For now, our next Playbook will introduce you to the Waypoint software platform, which is an active implementation of the Pathfinder Protocol.


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