Source: Harvard Business Review

It may seem smart to do nothing in an uncertain situation, but that’s not necessarily true — or even possible. Instead, there are three actions you can take that can help you take advantage of uncertain times.

A Harvard Business Review article outlines strategies shared by U.S. general and former CIA director David Petraeus, who has managed uncertainty on a global scale and with the highest stakes:

  1. Learn faster than your opponent.
  2. Focus guidance on bigger issues.
  3. Be ready to exploit surprise gains.

For companies, learning faster than competitors can mean incorporating a “What have we learned?” discussion into weekly or daily team meetings.

“There has to be an appropriate culture of freedom to fail,” Petraeus advises, “as long as failure (as well as success) is followed by a very careful after-action review, to understand what transpired, why it happened, and then how to reduce the chances of it happening in the future.”

To maintain focus on the big issues, allow those closest to new information to help make decisions. That doesn’t mean managers get a pass on making decisions. Instead, focus on attracting the right people and training them to make the right decisions, according to the story.

When you put the first two steps into practice — and stay vigilant during uncertain times and situations — new directions and opportunities will come forward.

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