Act, don’t plan, when it comes to the future

Taking a risk can pay off in many industries.

Charles F. Kiefer co-founded Innovation Solutions in 1976, a management consulting company that became a forerunner of organizational learning philosophies in business.

Now Kiefer — along with co-writers Leonard A. Schlesinger and Paul Brown — has developed a new strategy. But this one isn’t for the C-suite. Their new book, “Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future,” is a message for anyone attempting a career in a field they’re passionate about.

The inspiration came in 2010, when Kiefer read Sara D. Sarasvathy’s “Effectuation: Elements of Entrepreneurial Expertise.”

“I was 50 pages in, and it was really the most dense, unreadable book I think I’ve read in my professional career — and this is coming from someone with a degree in theoretical physics from MIT!” explains Kiefer. “But at some point the bell went off in my head and I said, ‘This is really the best, most insightful explanation of who an entrepreneur is that I’ve ever read.’” 

Soon Kiefer and Schlesinger (the president of Babson College) were teaching their take on Saravathy’s concepts to groups of students and professionals. They preached a rejection of career micro-planning in favor of an active, inquisitive journey.

“This kind of thinking is not just used by entrepreneurs. We’ve had evidence of it in all of the arts. We’ve had military officers say it parallels the thinking they use in combat. Any time you’re faced with uncertain situations, this thinking makes sense,’” says Kiefer. “Unless you have a very standard kind of job path — and there are less and less of those out there — you need to act your way into the future. Not plan your way.”


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