The Key Concepts

Fasten your seatbelts for an exhilarating (quite often udated) whirlwind tour of the progress economy! We’re diving into the key concepts that define this dynamic world. Brace yourself as we explore progress, progress propositions, value creation, innovation, and more.

Everyone is trying to Progress

In the progress economy, everyone is on a quest to move towards more desirable states in every aspect of their lives. That is, progress seekers are looking to progress. We’re talking about learning, fixing, impressing, building, enjoying, and much more.

Progress – moving, over time, to a more desirable progress state.

And this progress state, which we call progress sought, has three elements:

  • functional – the action (some form of people-, possession-, mind-, intangible-processing)
  • non-functional – performance and feelings
  • contextual – when/where/constraints.

To make progress, we engage in progress attempts – executing a series of progress making activities. Where these activities are largely resource integrations between various combinations of operant and operand resources.

But sometimes, we face hurdles on our path to progress. We might lack the necessary resources, such as skills, knowledge, or time.

We call this the lack of resources progress hurdle. And that hurdle might mean we don’t try to progress, or we start trying only to abandon the attempt (this is the progress decision process).

“Lack of resource” progress hurdle

And this is where progress propositions come in.

Progress propositions are offers to help Seekers progress
Progress Diamond

Progress propositions are like a helping hand from experts who have conquered similar challenges and want to assist others with their progress. We call these experts progress helpers.

Progress proposition – an offer of resources (specific mix+ proposed activities) to help make some defined progress: progress offered

Progress propositions offer a path towards the progress state of progress offered by providing two key components:

  1. A proposed set of progress-making activities: the specific steps you need to take to move closer to progress sought…instructions, recipes, techniques, contractual terms, captured in a process, and so on
  2. A bundle of supplementary resources: a proposition specific mix of knowledge and skill encapsulating resources…employees, systems, goods, physical resources, and locations.

While there’s a necessary connection between the progress offered and the progress sought it doesn’t have to be an exact match. Seekers often compromise to progress offered if it is easier to make.

In fact, this difference is where disruptive innovation and Blue Ocean strategy find their place in the progress economy.

But there are hurdles to engaging a proposition

While propositions aim to overcome an original lack of resource hurdle, they can introduce new challenges. Imagine being offered a new resource you lack the skills or knowledge to use.

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

And, a progress proposition introduces five additional progress hurdles.

lack of resourcehow much resource does the progress seeker feel they lack in order to progress
adoptabilityhow readily does the progress seeker feel they are able to engage the progress proposition
resistancehow much resistance – none, postpone, reject, or worse, oppose – does the progress seeker feel towards the proposition
misalignment on continuumhow far away, on the progress continuum, does the progress seeker feel the proposition is compared to their own position
lack of confidencehow much confidence does the progress seeker have in the progress proposition and/or progress helper
effort elsewherehow many service credits – amount and frequency – does a progress seeker need to get from elsewhere in order to meet that requested by the progress helper in order to engage the progress proposition (more formally: to participate in service exchange)

If a seeker phenomenologically feels any of these hurdles are too high before or during a progress attempt they might not start, or abandon, that attempt.

The seeker’s progress attempt uses the engagement decision process to determine whether to start, and continue, engaging with a progress proposition. That includes judging the 6 progress hurdles, together with views on progress potential and progress reached.

Service Engagement Decision
Progress proposition fall on a continuum

Making progress involves executing a series of activities. When you engage with a proposition, both you (as the seeker) and the helper work together to make progress. But who drives the activities depends on the type of proposition.

Some propositions, called enabling propositions, have you executing the activities on your own. And you might even ignore the helper’s proposed series of progress making activities. Who reads the instructions on a new gadget you’ve just bought?

Other propositions, called relieving propositions, have the helper executing most of the activities. Many propositions fall somewhere in between these two types on what we call the progress proposition continuum.

progress proposition continuuma continuum between enabling and relieving propositions on which all progress propositions sit.

The progress proposition continuum of enabling to relieving propositions. Showing the implications on/of the service mix, non-functional progress sought, and which actor drives the activities involved in the process of making progress.

This continuum tells us interesting things about the non-functional progress offered. As well as the types of resources offered in the resource mix.

Enabling propositions usually have more goods involved, and they appeal to seekers who want to achieve, for example, personal growth or avoid hold-ups in progressing.

Relieving propositions, on the other hand, rely more on employees and systems in the resource mix, appealing, for example, to seekers with lack of time.

The continuum also reveals a progress hurdle. It’s the distance between where your proposition falls on the continuum and what the seeker wants. If a seeker is looking for a relieving proposition, like when they lack time, but your proposition is more towards the enabling end, it can become too big a hurdle to overcome and they may not engage.

Editing from here onwards

Value emerges from progress

Value is a complicated beast once we decouple it from price in a value-in-exchange view. Now we see it as emerging from judgements made before, during and after progress attempts. By both the seeker and helper. Though the seeker’s view is predominant.

value – emerges from unique and phenomenological judgements of progress and heights of progress hurdles. It is disassociated from price.

Those judgements relate to unique and phenomenological views of (remaining) progress potential and progress achieved as well as the 6 progress hurdles.

The joint nature of progress with a proposition means value is co-created during progress making activities (the so-called value-in-use). It may also start being created pre- and continue post- engagement of a proposition’s activities. And, it can be co-destructed if one or both actors obstruct progress.


It’s through understanding the multifaceted nature of progress and the dynamics between progress potentialprogress sought and progress offered, we can unlock the exciting landscape of innovation.

Innovation naturally becomes a case of finding, and executing, some combination of:

  • making better progress towards progress sought
  • making existing progress better
  • reducing one or more of the hurdles to progress

And there are many levers with which to do that in the progress economy. Not least, offering a better series of progress making activities. Or upgrading/varying the resource mix.

A progress helper exists to…

Helpers arise in various ways. An obvious way is from a seeker who has successfully navigated some progress themselves. And now they want to assist others. Or they might deliberately set out to solve progress that they themselves are not necessarily seeking. Or they may take training from another helper.

The helper’s motivation is simple: service – the application of my skills and knowledge for another’s benefit – is the fundamental basis of exchange (not value as we used to think) and helpers see an opportunity to maximise their number of exchanges. Often these service exchanges are indirect and mediated in size and time by service credits.

Add to the discussion…

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