If you spend even 10 minutes watching the talking heads on cable, or reading the op-eds on Sunday in your favorite paper, you realize those well-dressed people on television and commentators in the newspaper go to incredible length to try to "prove" every argument made before theirs was wrong.

That's just dumb.

You know why people attack everything that has come before. We live in a hyper-competitive environment when it comes to getting someone's attention, and so if you have something new, you may feel compelled to come up with a gimmick such as "everything you know is wrong" in order to get people to notice what you have to say.

Well, let me try to get your attention a different way.

I want to present you with a proven approach to dealing with uncertainty in all forms, i.e. what you should do when you don't know what to do.

I know it works because it is the same approach that the people who are masters at dealing with uncertainty--serial entrepreneurs--use. (There is nothing more uncertain than starting a business, and serial entrepreneurs, people who have started two or more successful companies, are masters at it.)

As you know, the cliched image of entrepreneurs coming up with an idea, laboring feverishly to perfect it, and delivering their creation to the market fully-formed is not what usually happens.

But, you may not be as clear about what actually does occurs.

Here's the typical path that I have noticed after studying these folks for more than 30 years.

The best entrepreneurs come up with an idea. They take a small step toward implementation to see if anyone is interested, and if it looks like some people are, they take another step forward.

If they don't get the reaction they want, they regroup and then take another step in a different direction.

In other words, they:


Learn (from that action) and

Build (off that learning) and

Repeat, i.e. they act again.

That cycle continues until the entrepreneur succeeds, knows she is not going to, or decides there is another, more appealing opportunity to pursue.

The approach serial entrepreneurs use when faced with the unknown (starting a business) will work for you when you face the unknown of any kind.

So, does this mean you should scrap your traditional ways of problem solving?

Absolutely not.

You shouldn't use this Act Learn Build Repeat approach exclusively. The way we all were taught to solve problems that are predictable--how do we introduce our existing product into an adjacent market; how many widgets will we sell during a recession--works just fine. You have historical precedents and data to draw on.

When you do, predict away.

When you don't, try the Act Learn Build approach. It gives you an additional tool. It does not replace the ones you have.

We concede presenting a new idea this way is far less dramatic than screaming "EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG."

But it is honest, the process has been proven, and it should be helpful.