One Simple Question That Cuts Through Uncertainty

Steve August
April 17, 2020

This week I’ve had multiple sessions with founders navigating through the current crisis, and working through incredible uncertainty.

While each founder had different specifics, the common thread is that the offerings they’ve worked to create and optimize over the past few years suddenly don’t have a paying market (at least until things get back to normal) – while some new, but untested ideas seem like a better fit for the current environment.

So do you stick with your tested pre-virus strategy? Or do you explore a new, but unvetted, offering that you think fits better with the times?

Do you persevere or pivot? How do you even make the call in the face of overwhelming uncertainty?

It’s a hard decision because we still don’t know how long we are in this current lockdown mode. And the longer it goes, the more we don’t know how fast we will get back to normal – or what the new normal will even look like.

In times of crisis, challenge and uncertainty, there’s an exercise I like to work through that starts with one simple question:

“What’s True?”

I take a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle. I label the left column “What’s True?.”

I label the right column: “What’s assumption/projection/emotion/story”

Under “What’s True,” I write done everything that is true, no matter how obvious: “We have a great team”, “Sales have declined by x%”, “We have X months of cash at current burn,” “We don’t know how long this will go on,”

Anything I can think of that is verifiably true goes in the left column.

Everything else goes into the right column under “assumption/projection/emotion/story.”

For example, for the new product that seems to fit the current environment, there’s an assumption that there’s a market for it. But it hasn’t been tested, so it’s an assumption.

The point of this exercise is that it helps separate everything that’s bouncing around my mind. By simply listing what’s true and separating from what’s project, assumption, story, fear, emotion, we can become clear headed, figure out next steps and move into action.

I took several founders through this exercise this week and they were able to get clarity on their next steps and get moving.

Here’s a free gift: you can download a free Powerpoint template of this What’s True exercise here.

Until next time,


PS If you’re a founder who got value from this post, then let’s talk. I’m offering a free, no obligation coaching session where we can work through a game changing issue for you. You can schedule here.

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