This is the message in March’s HBR in unpredictable environments and is the conclusion that they take from research from the University of Virginia’s Darden Business School of 27 entrepreneurs. The articel is called ‘New Project? Don’t Analyze – Act’ and applies to managing projects in corporates in unstable environments.

In brief the entrepreneur takes a smart step towards a goal, gets feedback and then repeats with another step. Put simply (and it does not get much more simple):

Act
Learn
Build

Interestingly, entrepreneurs do not plan unless they have to, rather than predict the future they try to create it. This way they keep the risk low and much more manageable as they are dealing with reality rather than forecasts. Of course, this is generally an anathema to the big corporate machines with budgets, control lines and other paraphernalia of big companies.

So, as an entrepreneurial employee who sees a good opportunity, what should you do? These are the six steps that they suggest:

1 Use what you have available
2 Identify how much you can afford to lose (time and money)
3 Get the commitment that you need for the next step, rather than the whole project.
4 Work only with volunteers, ‘make it happen’ types
5 Go for the low hanging fruit and link to a business imperative
6 Manage expectations – under promise and over deliver

This will build momentum and makes sure that you keep yourself in a retrievable situation. Generally this is so much of what happens in the City especially in the trading areas where a good idea can be quickly put into practice. This might not be quite so true as it was ten years ago with compliance and regulation becoming more predominant but it is where London has always been good. Do go and get the article from HBR.

When looking for a job this strategy is hugely important so once you have identified what you want to do, just get out there and do it! Coaching can be really supportive here both to gain clarity, develop strategy and manage the ups and downs of the journey.

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