Lack of resource – a progress hurdle

“Lack of resource” progress hurdle
Dr. Adam Tacy PhD, MBA avatar
The idea

Progress seekers need resources to undertake and complete their progress attempts. Often, in our modern world, they lack them.

Typically missing resources are skills or knowledge – perhaps encapsulated in goods – or time. But may also include other operand resource such as strength, learning capacity etc.

The intention of progress propositions is to reduce this hurdle, through offering access to supplementary resources – a series of progress-making activities and a resource mix.

However, a proposition may not fully lower this hurdle. And it may even introduce new lack of resources.

Progress hurdles

Just a quick recap of progress hurdles, they are:

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

Instead of viewing them as barriers, we refer to these factors as hurdles because seekers may choose to progress regardless of their size. A barrier would imply no progress attempts.

Lack of resource

Ready to fly to yourself to space? Probably not (unless you’re Elon Musk or Richard Branson). Us mere mortals lack the resources to do so. Of course, we could engage Virgin Galactic to fly us there. And that’s an example of a progress helper offering us access to supplementary resources to help make our progress (for, presumably, a sizeable level of service exchange).

But what is stopping us making this progress into space ourselves on a rainy summer Sunday afternoon? Well, most likely we don’t possess the skills and knowledge to build a space going craft nor how to launch it, and we probably don’t have a launch pad or landing strip. At least I know I don’t.

Norman, in “Reframing business: When the map changes the landscape” (2001) informs us that the amount of information, knowledge, skills and other operant resources that seeker can access and use is a key aspect of their ability to create value.

Generically, we can say we might:

  1. lack the knowledge of the necessary progress-making activities or the right sequencing of those activities
  2. lack sufficient skills and/or knowledge to execute one or more of the progress-making activities
  3. have limited, or no, access to resources, such as goods* , we feel necessary for some of those activities
  4. lack some other operant resource (such as creativity, or physical strength, or…)
  5. lack the time

* items that freeze particular skills and knowledge for distribution and that are unfrozen during a progress-making activity

These five points align with the perspectives of the authors of “Reinventing your business model“. They identify:

four most common barriers keeping people from getting particular jobs done: insufficient wealth, access, skills, or time.

Johnson, M.W., Christensen, C.M. and Kagermann, H. (2008) “Reinventing your business model“, HBR

Regarding insufficient wealth, we will address that separately since the concept of money is viewed differently in the progress economy, and that discussion falls under the equitable service exchange progress hurdle.

Lack of resource progress hurdle

We see the lack of resource hurdle as shown in the following diagram:

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

A seeker has a unique and phenomenological minimum level of resources they believe they need in order to make a progress attempt (represented by the horizontal line in the diagram). The size of the hurdle indicates the extent to which their existing accessible resources (represented by the rightmost diagonal line) fall below that line.

To overcome this lack of resources, seekers can either attempt to address it themselves or turn to a progress proposition that offers supplementary resources.

Addressed by seeker

Imagine at the dawn of time you needed to carry some water from one place to another. There’s no shops or water transportation training course. So what do you do? Well, you’ve probable noticed some things in nature that hold water and look carry-able. So you try one and it works OK. Congrats, you’ve found a resource that helps you progress..

But then you notice your neighbour, Stig, carrying more water, and in a more comfortable way than you. He’s making more and better progress. Something you could really do with. By observing him, you work out what he’s doing and, after a little trial and error, you can copy what he does.

Later in the year you’re getting tired of carrying objects full of water. You’ve noticed some tall grass that water can flow through. And you wonder if you could link several of them together. Then, if you lift one end of what you’ll later call a pipe, the water travels some distance without you carrying it. All you’d need to do is lift the water up to that higher point at one end and into the first grass pipe. Now you’ve also innovated the progress-making activities.

Even if the world is more complex today, a seeker can still get new resources by:

  • finding things – which may well be discarded items from more complex propositions
  • observing and copying others
  • creative thinking and trial and error

We’d probably refer to it as MacGyver-ing. An approach long favoured by lovable eccentric innovators.

This is the human story of bootstrapping knowledge and skills into an ever increasing complex progress making world.

And there’s another part to this. Sometimes an innovative seeker turns their newly acquired skills and knowledge into an offering to help others make progress. The progress seeker becomes a progress helper.

Seeker becomes helper

Why would a seeker offer service? Because they have progress they want to make themselves, and they lack resources to make.

We’ll introduce Vargo & Lush’s definition of service as a short cut in our discussions:

service – the application of competences (knowledge and skills) for the benefit of another party

Vargo & Lush (2008) “From Goods to Service(s): Divergences and Convergences of Logics” 

Becoming a helper means they can engage in service exchange. I do something for you, in return you do something for me. Although this exchange is often masked by it being indirect.

  • Service is the fundamental basis of exchange
  • Indirect exchange masks the fundamental basis of exchange
#1 and #2

Thus, by offering a service, a helper can get a service in return. Either as a direct exchange, or as an indirect one (I perform a service for you, you give me some service credits instead of performing a return service, and I use those service credits to get service from someone else).

Addressed by helper

Why would a seeker engage a helper? There are two main reasons. Firstly, helpers provide supplementary resources that enhance the seeker’s existing resources. The intention is this lowers the lack of progress hurdle, enabling the seeker to make progress more easily. The intention is that by engaging a helper’s proposition, the seeker’s judgment of progress potential increases, making it more likely for them to start and continue their progress attempt. They can make further progress.

Secondly, engaging a helper saves the seeker valuable time. Instead of spending time searching for resources, engaging in trial and error, and taking creative steps, the seeker can focus on other areas of their progress sought. This time-saving aspect is further amplified when the seeker engages a relieving proposition, which takes over certain progress-making activities. They can make wider progress.

“Lack of resource” progress hurdle

Back to our lack of resource progress hurdle diagram. Engaging a helper’s proposition shifts the line to the diagonal shown on the left. The lack of progress hurdle has reduced. Propositions offer two types of supplementary resources:

While these resources aim to address the lack of resource hurdle, it’s important to acknowledge that engaging a helper may not completely eliminate the lack of resource hurdle for all seekers.

This is because not all seekers start from the same position, their progress origins vary. Most propositions make assumptions about seekers’ progress origins, which may still leave a lingering lack of progress hurdle for some seekers.

Additionally, while a proposition may resolve the initial lack of resource hurdle, it can introduce new lack or resource.

How helpers improve resources

One of the challenges for a helper is that seekers’ progress sought is constantly evolving. As a result, the progress offered by a proposition may gradually become further away from what seekers are seeking. Which results in less equitable service exchanges. This drives helpers to improve their resources, both externally offered and internal.

There are several ways for a helper to enhance their resources. They can invest in research and development or engage in creative trial and error processes on their own. They might also engage with another helper to provide training for employees or improve internal systems.

Helpers can also “carry” resources from other industries or markets. A good example is QR codes, which initially appeared in the automobile industry but are now widely used for ticketing, access control, information sharing, and various other applications.

Acquiring other helpers who possess useful resources is another option to consider.

More commonly, helpers can form an ecosystem. This is a common practice, particularly among online retailers who often integrate payment services and parcel delivery services into their ecosystem. Sometimes they chose the delivery service, sometimes they offer the seeker the ability to pick from one of several.

Editing below here

Imagine a world with no goods or education. In such a world, progress is very limited. Seekers have a substantial lack of resource progress hurdle. Where typical resources a seeker has are knowledge, skills, time, any operand resources they can find.

And typical resources they may lack are knowledge, skills, time, operand resources, series of activities to progress.

There’s some overlap between those two lists.

Progress proposition offer supplementary resources that the seeker can integrate with during activities involved in attempting to make progress. The intention is to lower this lack of resource progress hurdle. With the seeker and helper resources integrating during the progress activities.

Progress Zip Tool
Progress Zip Tool

A progress helper offers these resources as a progress resource mix – a proposition specific collection, including none, of employees, systems, goods and physical resources.

progress proposition = progress resource mix + proposed series of activities

Helpers frequently propose the series of activities required to make the progress offered using their offered resources. This addresses any lack of resource (knowledge, in this case) regarding how to progress. Although seekers may chose to ignore the proposed actions. For example, how many of us read the instructions that cone with a new oven? But ignoring proposed activities may lead to value co-destruction with progress being abandoned.

And a helper may decide to structure their proposal as a relieving proposition to address any lack of time as a resource. This is best viewed through the misalignment on continuumprogress hurdle.


Whilst a key aim of progress propositions is to lower this lack of resource hurdle, they may not do so fully. Which may or not be an issue for seekers.

And a proposition may even introduce a new lack of resources. For example, offering me a subscription service to an aircraft so I can fly myself from point A to point B is only useful to me if I know how to fly.

Progress propositions aim to reduce the lack of resource progress hurdle. But they may not do so fully. They may even introduce new lack of resources. CLICK TO TWEET

It’s worth noting that enabling propositions, on the progress continuum, often Introducing new lack of resources. These typically offer a goods-heavy mix. Which places higher skills/knowledge requirement on seeker than a comparable relieving mix. They also typically require additional propositions to be integrated together by the seeker for progress to be made.

Once a helper offers a proposition, the seeker needs to feel that they are able to use it. And that’s our next hurdle: adoptability.

Key considerations
  • enhance elements of the progress resource mix
  • alter the mix
  • involve/swap/acquire ecosystem partner offerings
  • enhance internal operant and operand resources
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