Progress Hurdles

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

We’re eager to make progress…but wait! What if we’re lacking the resources (perhaps the skills, knowledge, tools, maybe strength, or time…) we need to integrate in order to do so?

Then we’ve hit the fundamental progress hurdle of the progress economy!!

  1. lack of resource

Luckily, progress propositions arise with an aim to lower this hurdle through offering access to supplementary resources. But, as we need to feel comfortable using a proposition, 5 additional progress hurdles emerge:

  1. adoptability
  2. resistance
  3. lack of confidence
  4. misalignment on continuum
  5. equitable exchange

As you’ve probably guessed: the higher any of these hurdles are the less progress we feel can be made, and so reduced value created. We call them hurdles rather than barriers as some seekers may still attempt (and succeed) even if they feel the barriers are high.

Reducing these hurdles is a rich zone for innovation.

Progress hurdles

In the progress economy, progress is achieved through a series of resource integrations, moving a seeker from their starting point (progress origin) to their desired state (progress sought). When a seeker feels they lack access to any necessary resources it becomes an issue, leading to what we term as a progress hurdle. This can be formally defined as:

progress hurdlea factor that, if felt uniquely and phenomenologically by a progress seeker as too high, may lead them to decide not to start or to abandon a progress attempt

We call it a hurdle rather than barrier since they are not absolute blockers. Some seekers may see a hurdle yet decide to attempt to progress anyway.

Visualising hurdles

We have a graphical representation that helps us grasp the concept of progress hurdles more clearly. Here’s an example of the lack of resource hurdle.

“Lack of resource” progress hurdle
“Lack of resource” progress hurdle

On this visual:

  • The y-axis represents the magnitude of the entity underlying the hurdle. In this example, it’s the resources required to make progress.
  • Horizontally, we mark the level at which a seeker feels they can confidently progress, essentially defining the hurdle itself.

Now, picture plotting the levels of access a seeker has to their own resources on this graph. As they assess their resource access, a diagonal line emerges, intersecting the line representing the necessary level.

The shaded area below this intersection denotes when the seeker falls below the hurdle. This shaded area increases in size the further the seeker’s judgment deviates from what is considered necessary for progress. That is, the hurdle to progress is increasing.

In this example we additionally show the impact of engaging a proposition. When a seeker engages such a proposition, they gain access to additional resources. This engagement shifts the diagonal line to the left, and the shaded area shrinks.

Typically, we prefer to keep these representations abstract to facilitate discussions about the concept itself, without delving into the specifics of plotting each resource type required.

Let’s look at a brief summary of the lack of resource progress hurdle.

Lack of resources

In the progress economy, the most fundamental progress hurdle encountered is the lack of resource hurdle. As we know, progress is achieved through a series of resource integrations. So lacking access to necessary resources raises a challenge.

“Lack of resource” progress hurdle

Lack of resource: does the seeker feel they have access to the necessary resources required to progress

Generally we’re talking about lacking access to:

  • knowledge about the necessary activities for making progress or the correct sequencing of those activities.
  • skills and knowledge needed to execute one or more of those progress-making activities.
  • other vital operant resource, such as creativity, physical strength, and more.
  • operand resources, like natural resources in the environment or goods*, essential for certain activities.
  • time.

* an operand resource that freezes specific skills and knowledge for distribution and which are unfrozen during a resource integration.

Here, “access” signifies that the seeker has control over these resources during the integration process. This concept extends beyond mere ownership of the resource. A distinction that becomes particularly relevant in the context of progress propositions, but it remains valid for individual progress attempts as well. For example, sometimes seekers may temporarily loan a resource to others, meaning it is not accessible for their own attempt.

To minimise the lack of resource hurdle, progress seekers may engage with a progress proposition.

The impact of progress propositions

Progress propositions aim to minimise the lack of resource progress hurdle. They achieve this by offering supplementary resources that seekers can integrate with in their pursuit of progress. These propositions consist of:

  • a proposed series of progress making activities
  • a resource mix tailored to the proposition, which includes varying levels, including none, of employees, systems, data, goods, physical resources, and locations.

However, it’s essential to note that a progress proposition may not always succeed in lowering the hurdle adequately. This situation can arise if the proposition assumes an overly advanced progress origin point for the seeker or if the progress offered is significantly different from the seeker’s progress sought.

Furthermore, a progress proposition might only address a portion of the resources needed, leaving the seeker to search for additional propositions. For example, a proposition could focus on training for specific progress-making activities, covering just one category mentioned earlier. Or if it provides goods, they often freeze narrow aspects of skills and knowledge needed. A hammer, for example, is often not sufficient for all the tasks.

And a progress proposition may, ironically, introduce a new resource gap. It might demand skills that the seeker has yet to acquire.

Additional hurdles

By introducing progress propositions, an additional five progress hurdles emerge. These come from the need for the seeker to integrate with resources provided by another party. Questions arise: Can they? Do they want to? Are they the right resources? And what is it going to cost (in terms of effort in return)?

The five additional hurdles in the progress economy are:

adoptabilitycan the progress seeker easily envision themselves using the proposition?
resistancewill the progress seeker resist, postpone, reject, or oppose the proposition due to perceived risks, usage conflicts, traditions, norms, or image concerns?
misalignment on continuumhow far apart on the progress continuum (from enabling to relieving propositions) are the proposition and what the seeker is looking for?
lack of confidencedoes the seeker trust the proposition and the helper behind it to assist them in reaching the offered progress state?
equitable exchangehow many service credits does a progress seeker need to get from elsewhere to engage proposition
The six progress hurdes that a seeker must uniquely and phenomenologically judge to be low enough in order to start/continue making a progress attempt with a particular progress proposition

These six progress hurdles are distinctive, with each seeker needing to assess them as being sufficiently low to initiate and sustain a progress attempt associated with a specific progress proposition.

Now, let’s delve into each of these hurdles, starting with “Adoptability.”

Adoptability of the Proposition

A seeker must feel they can engage a proposition effectively.

“Adoptability” progress hurdle

Adoptability progress hurdle: does the progress seeker feel they are able to use the proposition

In defining this hurdle, we draw significant inspiration from the research of Rogers, particularly his work in ‘Diffusion of Innovations‘ where he identified several critical factors that accelerate the adoption of innovations.

Our primary focus centres on Rogers’ concept of perceived attributes, which encompasses the following key factors:

  1. Relative advantage
  2. Compatibility
  3. Complexity
  4. Trialability
  5. Observability

A proposition has a high adoptability hurdle if the progress seeker perceives it as having, for instance, a lower relative advantage compared to alternative propositions, low compatibility to what they are used to; and is more complex than other options.

However, it’s important to note that the hurdle’s height can be lowered through trial experiences or by the seeker observing the proposition in action.

Resistance to the proposition

Complementing Rogers’ perceived attributes is the concept of resistance.

Resistance progress hurdle: will the seeker postpone, reject, or even protest against a progress proposition due to perceived risks, usage, traditions & norms and/or perceived inages

“Resistance” progress hurdle

In essence, the resistance hurdle questions whether the seeker will embrace the proposition or resist its adoption. Several historical examples, such as Segway, Google Glass (v1), nuclear power, electric scooters, and the mechanical loom, illustrate instances where propositions faced significant resistance.

To comprehensively understand this resistance hurdle, we draw insights from the research conducted by Kleijnen et al., who have explored consumer resistance to innovation and its underlying factors. (see “An exploration of consumer resistance to innovation and its antecedents“)

Kleijnen et al’s factors involved in resistance to innovations and their resistance hierarchy

Kleijnen et al. have identified a hierarchy of factors contributing to resistance and the associated resistance hierarchy, shedding light on the multifaceted nature of this hurdle.

The higher the seeker perceives a proposition on this hierarchy, exceeding their tolerance threshold, the greater the height of this hurdle.

Mis-alignment on the progress continuum between Proposition and seeker’s desire

In the progress economy, propositions span a wide spectrum, situating themselves somewhere along a continuum that stretches from enabling propositions to relieving propositions. The defining characteristic that distinguishes them is the entity primarily responsible for driving the majority of progress-making activities.

“Misalignment on progress proposition continuum” progress hurdle

Misalignment on continuum progress hurdle: how far apart on progress continuum – of enabling to relieving propositions – are the proposition and what the seeker is looking for

A seeker also has a desired position on the continuum for the progress they are trying to make.

Service-Service Continuum tool
The progress proposition continuum

The ‘Misalignment on Progress Proposition Continuum’ progress hurdle is concerned with the extent of disparity between the seeker’s desired position on the continuum and the actual location of the proposition.

Put simply, the hurdle is highest if the seeker and proposition find themselves at opposite ends of the continuum.

Lack of confidence in the proposition

A seeker needs to have confidence in both the proposition and the helper.

a progress seeker should have confidence that the progress proposition (and progress helper) can help them make the progressed offered

“Confidence” progress hurdle

Seekers must have confidence that an offering will assist them in making progress. In both the actual proposition and in the helper. And this usually starts based on the seeker’s individual lived experience.

Equitable exchange

We observe the progress economy is driven by exchange of service rather than the traditional goods-dominant exchange of value. You do something for me and in return I do something for you.

“Effort Elsewhere” progress hurdle

Equitable exchange progress hurdle: a progress seeker needs to feel they are not being asked to perform too much effort (service) elsewhere in order to gain the asked for service credits to engage a progress proposition

Such an exchange should be equitable, that is, each service using the same magnitude of effort.

This hurdle reflects the seekers feeling of effort expected to be exchanged in return for access to the helper’s resources. The higher that is above a seeker’s feeling, the higher the hurdle.

Practically, service exchange is often indirect and enabled by service credits. I do something for someone and get service credits in equitable exchange. I then use service credits I have in equitable exchange for your service.

This way we explain price and the role of cash in the progress economy. Additionally, this hurdle opens the door to business model innovation – subsidising, subscription, freemium etc.

What about inconvenience?

One hurdle you might argue is missing is “inconvenience”. A service that is inconvenient is less likely to be engaged, surely.

But, what is convenience? Intuitively we might say it is something that saves us time and effort. Farquhar and Rowley have a detailed discussion on this question, arriving at the following definition:

The convenience of a service is a judgement made by consumers according to their sense of control over the management, utilization and conversion of their time and effort in achieving their goals associated with access to and use of the service.

Farquhar, J. D. and Rowley, J. (2009) “Convenience: a services perspective

These are the hurdles we have just discussed.

Relating to Innovation

Simply put, reducing these hurdles is a rich zone for innovation.

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