Most project managers focus on planning and execution. But large projects rarely go in a straight line, and often that planning doesn’t take into account key assumptions, and the execution goes far in the wrong direction before the need for changes are recognized. Agile approaches don’t go far enough in solving this problem because they focus on pivoting quickly — being reactive — rather than avoiding the problems to begin with. The author, a strategic advisor to large firms, suggests that project leaders should think like startup founders instead, using the tools that have become common in that sector: a project canvas, customer development, and so forth. In doing so, project leaders can uncover and solve for some of the project’s biggest questions and risks first, before scaling to full execution.