Course Corrections – Part 2

Among the authors who have taken a different “tack” on Course Correction from that laid out by William Hubbard (see the prior post, “Course Corrections”) are Thomas Schmitt and Arnold Perl; Mike Michalowicz; and, Robert Genn.  A brief review of their techniques may help refine yours.

“Course Correction” often involves finding “directionally correct” solutions.  In “Simple Solutions” (Wiley, 2006), authors Thomas Schmitt and Arnold Perl recommended that innovators and problem solvers “adopt the approach that the right answer is one that is directionally correct, since one will never have enough time or information to arrive at the non-existent perfect solution.”  That methodology leads to answers that are “in the ballpark”, and keep work moving ahead in a reasonably correct direction toward the best answer to a problem rather than never reaching first base.

The tacking metaphor, a “how to get there” method derived from sailing, was recast by Mike Michalowicz in his business-oriented book, “The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur” (Obsidian Launch, 2008).

On the Right Course? (c)2009 Randy D. Bosch

Seldom can a sailor transit directly from point A to point B due to wind, obstacles and geography.  The sailor plots a general path, then sets out on a first leg of travel under the then current conditions.  Reaching a milestone, the sailor recalibrates for the conditions at that point and relative to his relationship to the goal, then changes course on the best “next leg” of the journey.  Similar adjustments are made until the sailor reaches the destination.  The voyage chart may show a very zig-zag route at the end of the day.  In his review of the book in his “Life Optimizer” blog (, Donald Latumihana concluded, “Isn’t that similar to achieving personal success?  You know where you want to go, but the wind always changes along the way.  No matter how good your plan is, unexpected things always happen.  You need to respond to them and adjust your actions accordingly or you may never reach your destination.”  Wise advise!

A third approach was excellently articulated by Robert Genn in his May 2008 article “Heuristic Painting”, published in the “Robert Glenn Twice Weekly Newsletter”, written primarily for artists but applicable to everyone!  Genn states that the heuristic process (Greek “heuriskein”, to discover) “…achieves a desired result by intelligent guesswork or estimation, rather than systematic formula.”  The heuristic approach would “Start anywhere.  Accept ‘nearly right’ to get going.  Forgo early accuracy and precision.” as well as additional measures that result in a process that “encourages one to have a sense of discovery and willingness to go with an educated guess, without falling too far into tried-and-true habit.”  The heuristic process does not ignore facts.  Rather it lets intuition bridge gaps at early stages of an effort instead of leaving one seemingly forever hung up with the excuse, “I don’t have enough information to start”.  You can read more of Robert Genn’s wisdom and subscribe to “The Twice Weekly Newsletter” at

Each of these techniques helps prepare to address the question, “Are things ‘unexpected’ if you are prepared to respond to them?”  Nassem Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan” (Random House, 2007), is working to find a way to competently respond to the truly unknown.  The work of Messrs. Schmitt, Perl, Michalowicz and Glenn helps equip each of us in a straightforward way to find our path from Recapitulation through Reformation to Renaissance!

Give them a try!


About randysrules

From a professional background in architecture, community and regional planning, urban design, leadership, and fine arts, this blog provides insights on ethics, leadership, architecture/planning/urban design, Venice, and whatever intrigues me at the time. Enjoy!
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