When the Unexpected Happens, Act

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A businessman waits to cross a street in Tokyo April 4, 2011. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

BOSTON (Reuters) – When the unexpected happens it can be easy to just freeze – but instead it is wise to take a smart step toward a goal as quickly as possible, and then reflect on what has been learned by taking that step, says Harvard Business School.

The Management Tip of the Day offers quick, practical management tips and ideas from Harvard Business Review and HBR.org (http://www.hbr.org). Any opinions expressed are not endorsed by Reuters.

“Most people prepare for the future by predicting what will happen and then acting accordingly. But what do you do when the unexpected happens — you get laid off, your project is killed, a new competitor upends your industry?

In the face of uncertainty, you need to act immediately. Start by identifying what you want. Then take a smart step toward that goal as quickly as you can, using what you know, who you know, and any other information that’s available.

After you act, ask: Did those actions get you closer to your goal? Do you need additional resources to draw even closer? Do you still want to obtain your objective? Pay close attention and you’ll learn something. Then it’s time to act again.”

– Today’s management tip was adapted from “What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do” by Leonard A. Schlesinger, Charles F. Kiefer, and Paul B. Brown.

(For the full post and to join the discussion, see: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/03/what_to_do_when_you_dont_know.html)