Book Review: Just Start by Leonard Schlesinger, Charles Kiefer, and Paul Brown
What is the next number of the sequence 61, 67, 71, 73, 79 …?
Understand the pattern
If you said 83, then pat yourself on the back because you are right. You found out that this was a sequence of prime numbers. You are dead sure about the hypothesis. As soon as you felt certain, you came up with the answer to be 83. And you are spot on. In a world where the future is like the past, there is a great advantage in having education and experience. Your education told you that 61 was a prime number because it is divisible only by itself and 1. Then the next step was to move forward with that logic to the next few numbers 80, 81, 82, 83 and apply the same logic. The first place where the logic works was the correct answer. Success comes when you understand the pattern.
Why is this tough?
What is next in the sequence
Tiger, Pi, #, ¾ …
How would you go about answering that question? You would come up with a hypothesis about the sequence and then find an answer. You would watch my reaction to your answer and know if you were in the right zone or if you were totally off the mark and then decide what your next idea would be. When you are wrestling with a problem that defies logic, it takes longer to be certain. You are spending time trying one hypothesis after another and rejecting it. Your inability to find something common fails. It is nothing that your education or past experience has prepared you for. The only way you can solve it is to have an idea, share it and watch my reaction to see if you are moving in the right direction.
Don’t think like an incumbent
When the future stops looking like the past, it stumps us. When ride-sharing happened, the taxi companies believed that it was a passing fad. It did not look anything like the past. As long as someone believed that the past pattern would prevail, they did not take any action. Over time, the new ride-sharing app just took over the world. The incumbents lost the battle they need not have.
What’s the big idea
The authors of the book Just Start – take action, embrace uncertainty, create the future says just that. That’s what serial entrepreneurs do. They don’t wait for the fog to clear. They start moving as soon as they have an idea. They try to stay within what they would define as an “acceptable loss”. They create a prototype and wait for the reaction of the consumer or potential consumer. If the reaction is encouraging, then they go further with the idea. Else they drop the idea and find a new one to play with. This is what the authors Leonard Schlesinger (Babson College President), Charles Kiefer (organizational learning expert) and Paul Brown (journalist) have come up with. That, in essence, is the entire book.
While reading the book, I kept thinking that the book would offer something beyond what I just told you. I kept telling myself that the book had been published by Harvard Business Review Press and there must be something more to it. What I discovered was that even Harvard Business Press publishes books which they should not have. The authors clearly followed their own formula. They had an idea. They wrote the book. They have my reaction of deep disappointment. Their next step should be to abandon the thought of writing another book until they have something new to say.
My advice? If you have read this review, you know that your money is better spent buying some other book instead.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article is of author's own and does not reflect the opinion of the organization.