What is the progress economy?

The progress economy enables us to start:

fixing the innovation problem

…by understanding and hunting innovation much more systematically

firing up growth

…getting back to Drucker’s “firms have only 2 functions: marketing and innovation”

enabling circular economy thinking

…through seeing beyond today’s constraining, myopic, value-in-exchange based logic
(”one of the biggest challenges…to transition from linear to circular is that it requires…revisiting the very notion of value creation” – Ellen Macarthur Foundation)

At the progress economy’s heart is a different, better, view of value. A belief that making progress towards a more desired state is key. And that value emerges from progressing, and the potential for progress. Rather than pursuing the greatest possible exchange of money.

This emphasis on progress enables us to construct a four-layer lens on how our world works. From which we derive actionable definitions and tools for systematically identifying innovation and growth opportunities (naturally including the circular economy). No more innovation theater!

Already interested in some case studies? take a look here.

We see progress as a joint endeavour. Made through a series of integration activities between progress seeker’s resources and those offered by a progress helper (in the form of a progress resource mix). This leads to the following natural flow of key definitions:

moving, over time, to a more desirable state;

it is a verb; a noun; a state transition

…but a progress seeker often encounters a ‘lack of resource’ progress hurdle trying to progress themselves.

understanding progress >>

deciding to progress >>

an offer of resources (specific mix* + proposed activities) to help make some defined progress

* employees, systems, goods, physical resources

…though we find any offer introduces 5 additional progress hurdles

Progress Diamond

Exploring Propositions >>

deciding to engage >>

the progress resource mix >>

progress proposition continuum >>

6 progress hurdles >>

creating and executing new* progress propositions that offers some combination of:

i) helping progress seeker to make better progress

ii) helping progress seeker to make existing progress better

iii) reducing one, or more, of the six progress hurdles.

whilst maintaining, or improving, the survivability of the progress helper (entity/ecosystem)

* to entity/ecosystem, industry, market, or the world

investigating innovation >>

…emerges from unique and phenomenological judgements of (remaining) progress potential and progress achieved as well as the heights of six progress hurdles; made before, during and after progress attempts.

…is co-created in progress making resource integration activities which may start pre-sales and continue post-sales

…can be co-destructed if one or both actors obstruct progress

visualising value >>

value co-creation >>
value co-destruction >>
value-in-use >>

You can browse all the definitions here.

The so what?!

Look at that definition of innovation again. No vague waffling about creating something new that adds value.

We’re quite specific in the progress economy. Innovation is creating and executing new progress propositions – offers to help make progress.

And these propositions offer some combination of improving progress that can be made and/or reducing one or more of the six progress hurdles. So we can identify systematic ways of hunting innovation, such as [under construction / links to come]:

But we also don’t forget that innovation needs to maintsin or improve the survivability of the progress helper.

The four actionable layers

We build the progress economy on solid foundations and broad shoulders.

We’re informed by a foundation layer that includes service-dominant logic. This leads us to a set of fundamental definitions. And onto this we construct the following three layers:

  • Strategic – What is progress?
  • Operational – How is progress made?
  • Determination – Who determines progress, and how?

And it all neatly plugs together, as shown below, to shine a light on how our world operates. Giving us the insights necessary for more systematically innovating, finding growth, and harnessing the circular economy.

Three of the layers making up the progress economy: strategic (what), operation (how) and decision (who).
Not shown is the foundation layer comprising service-dominant logic and definitions

Strategic layer >>

Operational layer >>

Determination layer >>

Foundation layer >>

The tools

It is within, and across, the four layers of the progress economy that we find a set of tools enabling a systematic hunt for innovation, growth and enabling circular economy thinking.

The various tools in the progress economy grouped in the 4 layers

There’s no more struggling to find actionable insights in vagueness, such as the typical (vague) view that innovation is something new that creates value.

And the progress economy finally explains the why behind many current innovation theories. For example, Blue Ocean Strategy (Kim & Mauborgne), Design thinking, Jobs to be done (both Christensen’s and Ulwick’s views) and disruptive innovation (in Christensen’s true sense).

Explore the tools >>

the progress resource mix

A progress seeker often struggles to make progress on their own. They lack resources such as time, knowledge, skills, and even an understanding which activities are needed to progress. We call this the ‘lack of resource’ progress hurdle.

Progress helpers form offering to help seekers make progress. They propose activities and offer the missing resources in the form of a progress resource mix. Which is a mix of varying levels, including none, of:

  • employees
  • systems
  • goods
  • physical resources

Each element of the mix encapsulates skills and knowledge in different forms. There is no goods vs service discussion in the progress economy. Goods freeze the application of skills and knowledge so they can be transported in time and place.

Imagine your progress is to enjoy music. You can watch a live band – a mix that is employee-heavy. Or you could chose a goods-heavy mix, such as CDs or vinyl. Or more likely, nowadays, a system-heavy mix offering, such as your favourite streaming site.

Although such a simple “freezing” as this is not always so obvious. Freezing a handyman hanging a picture for you, for example, needs several different skills frozen in different goods (drills, wall plugs, hooks…). And you, as a seeker, need to integrate with them all, knowing the order and how to.

We also find there’s a progress proposition continuum from relieving to enabling propositions. This broadly reflects who drives the majority of proposed actions in the proposal. As well as giving deeper understanding into the progress resource mix. An enabling proposition, for example, will typically have a more goods heavy resource mix.

the progress resource mix >>

the progress proposition continuum >>

the six progress hurdles

We’ve seen that the intention of progress propositions is to reduce the lack of resource progress hurdle. However, the act of offering to help actually introduces 5 additional hurdles. Based around a seeker deciding to engage.

So we say, in the progress economy, there are the following 6 progress hurdles that the progress seeker needs to feel are sufficiently low for them to decide to attempt progress:

lack of resourceis there a lack of resource in either party that will hinder progress
adoptabilitycan the progress seeker readily see themselves using the proposition
resistancewill the progress seeker postpone, reject, or worse, oppose the proposition
misalignmenthow far apart, on the service continuum, are the proposition and the seeker’s wishes
confidencedoes seeker trust proposition and/or helper
effort elsewherehow many service credits does a progress seeker need to get from elsewhere to engage proposition

These hurdles to progress along with progress seeker’s determantion of progress achieved and progress potential inform their decision to engage, and keep engaging a progress proposition process.

more on the 6 progress hurdles >>

engagement decision process >>

case studies

[coming soon – anything below is likely to be a placeholder / work in progress at the moment…]