How do they do it those brilliant entrepreneurs; those trials who win big in the free market trial-and-error process? There are two main models:
Aim first, then shoot: “I never doubted; I never shifted,” the successful entrepreneur says. He embodied a single trial and gave it his all. He was a straight shooter, never veering, whose shot happened to find an opening in the ever-shifting market place. Though others doubted him, through dogged determination he prevailed. His self-certainty overcame the obstacles and attracted buy-in from those who admired his confidence. Unsuccessful entrepreneurs say they never doubted or shifted either, but in their case, there wasn’t an opening. So it goes. You give your idea your all and either you win or lose.
Shoot first, then aim: “I doubted, I shifted, revising my plan until I found an opening” says the successful entrepreneur. “I had to, because you can’t anticipate everything,” she says. “I lost sleep sometimes second-guessing myself, wondering if I was off. I absorbed feedback and experienced inner conflict sometimes.” She wasn’t just a trial in the trial and error process, she embodied whole trial and error process, imagining the things that could go wrong. Of course too much shifting and you can miss opportunities, confuse the market about what your idea is, or simply waste too much money on the back-and-forth.
The philosopher Karl Popper argued that the gift of thought enables us to “let our hypotheses die in our stead,” by which he meant instead of acting on a stupid hypothesis, you can picture acting on it, and decide not to act on it. Picturing it is like embodying the trial and error process. That’s the Shoot first, then aim entrepreneur’s advantage.
Still, embodying the trial and error process comes with the disadvantage of doubt and a delicate balancing act. She has to promote her idea with confidence so as to gain investors, customers and suppliers. She also has to doubt her ideas on her own time so as to anticipate necessary shifts. She has to sell hype her idea assertively but not believe her own hype
Shoot first, then aim entrepreneurs fail when either they doubt publicly and therefore can’t attract buy-in, or when they believe their own hype and fail to anticipate and respond to changing circumstances.
To hold opposite ideas in mind at once and still take decisive action—that’s thinking. That’s using your head to embody the trial and error process. And that’s challenging, not just for the entrepreneur but for all of us looking to make the right moves in a changing world.