Functional operating system

Dr. Adam Tacy PhD, MBA avatar
What we’re thinking

Explore how the progress economy functionally operates. It is one of three architectural views and this one usefully breaks the functional operation into four distinct layers:

  • Strategic – what is progress
  • Operation – how is progress made
  • Decision – how, and by who, is progress determined
  • Foundation – what the progress economy is built upon

It all starts to make sense…

progress as an operating system

One of three architectural ways of looking at the progress economy is as a functional operating system for how our world works. In doing so, we discover there are four layers:

  • foundation layer – where the basics are described. From the underlying service-dominant logic to the definitions of key concepts such as progress and value.
  • decision layer – capturing the decisions mad by actors in the progress economy. When do they start/abandon a progress attempt, together with phenomenological judgements of progress potential, progress reached, and sizes of six progress hurdles
  • operational layer – how progress is made through resource integrations, what are those resources; how helpers offer progress propositions and the progress proposition continuum; value co-creation and value destruction.
  • strategic layer – understanding progress sought and seekers’ progress origin; seeing how proposition progress offered and progress origin relate; our definition of innovation (improving progress made using all the actionable levers the progress economy provides)


Progress is the beating heart of the progress economy. We define it as:

a move over time to a more desirable state

As such, there are three strategic progress states; the progress:

Whilst progress sought potentially contains every progress a seeker wants to achieve, we typically consider distinct aspects at a time.

A progress seeker may attempt to progress on their own, trying to move from their current progress origin to their more desired progress sought.

They may also fail, or not even start an attempt. This happens when they lack the resource to progress. Such as time, skills, knowledge, physical attributes like strength etc. Which is where progress helpers and their progress propositions come into the picture.

Helping progress

If a seeker lacks the resources to progress themselves, they may turn to a progress helper and the progress proposition(s) they offer.

The intention is to offer help a seeker progress to a state of progress offered from a proposition’s progress origin. However, a proposition’s progress offered may not reach a seeker’s progress sought (and the progress origin of proposition and seeker may differ).

Segmenting help

Let’s also recall that a progress state is made up of three elements:

  • functional – say, learn a language
  • non-functional – quickly
  • contextual – not computer literate

Strategically, a helper has three choices for their proposition. They can attempt to match:

  • every seeker’s origin and progress sought (ie fully customisable)
  • group seekers on similarity of progress origin and progress sought (fully segmented)
  • somewhere in-between (segmented)
improving help – Innovation

And this gives us a first insight into innovation in the progress economy. Innovation is creating and offering new progress propositions that help seekers progress better than before. It is some combination of:

  • improving how to make today’s progress
  • getting seeker’s closer to their progress sought
  • moving the proposition’s progress origin closer to individual seeker’s origins

When we look at the decision layer we’ll also see it’s about reducing six hurdles to making progress.

You might be wondering where “value” comes into play. In the progress economy, we see it emerges from making progress (see foundation layer).

Needing innovation

One thing is for sure. Seekers’ progress origins and progress sought constantly evolve. Either from making attempts or from observing others make attempts. Both in your current domain (industry/geography) and others.

This constant evolution of expectations needs to be addressed by progress helpers, otherwise propositions become increasingly unattractive to seekers.

However, helpers chasing the more demanding seekers is the source of Christensen’s Innovator’s dilemma and opportunities for new commers.

So how is progress made? Let’s look into the operation layer.


Seekers attempt to make progress by integrating resources together in a series of progress-making activities.

We call these progress attempts since a seeker may succeed or fail to make progress.

We see resources as carriers of capabilities. Where a seeker typically has resources such as time, skills, knowledge, and physical attributes such as strength. They may also have objects they find in their environment (or have obtained through other interactions with helpers – we’ll come back to this shortly).

A seeker, then, may attempt progress on their own using the resources available to them. They may succeed, fail, and/or persevere in their attempt.

Lacking resource

However, they likely lack resources; especially in our complex world. You’ll recognise this: you don’t have the time, or don’t know how to make progress. Maybe you know how to, but don’t have the skills. Or your order from IKEA is too heavy to carry home in your arms.

Helping make progress

Progress propositions arise offering help to make progress. These propositions comprise two supplementary bundles of resource, a:

If a seeker engages a progress proposition then progress becomes a joint endeavour. Value, which we see as emerging from progress, can now be said to be co-created, in-use. We call this value-through-progress.

Integrating resources

Resources fall into two categories:

Improving help given


Progress is the beating heart of the progress economy.

a move over time to a more desirable state

In context, we see progress as a verb, state, noun (named states), and a series of state transitions.


Building upon the context of progress we have progress attempts. These are how Progress Seekers try to reach their more desirable state (progress sought) from their progress origin.

Wrapping up

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Discussion

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