Progress Origin

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

Every progress attempt starts from a seeker’s unique progress origin.

It’s somewhere that influences a seeker’s feelings of lack of resource and progress potential; and which can change between attempts. And a place where no progress has occurred, and so no value has emerged.

Progress propositions also need to assume a seeker’s progress origin.

Misunderstanding where a seeker starts a progress attempt has implications on value that emerges when engaging with a proposition Share on X

Get it wrong and they might not provide enough resource; or provide too much and frustrate the seeker. We should innovate to get propositions’ origins closer to seeker’s origin without pushing equitable exchange hurdle too high.

A seeker’s Progress origin

Where progress sought is the desired progress state a seeker wishes to reach, progress origin is where they start their progress attempts.

progress origin: the progress state from which a progress seeker begins their progress attempt.

Seekers have unique progress origins; even when repeating an attempt. Their origins can change due to resources and experiences gained from other attempts (of this and other types and not just in your industry or market).

Progress origin is the seeker’s starting point for progress attempts

These origins influence a seekers decision process to progress in two significant ways. A larger distance between origin and sought demands more capabilities (carried by resources), which the seeker might not have. This gets reflected in a higher lack of resource progress hurdle. That influences a seeker’s judgement of progress potential, which can be lowered with larger distances.

Engaging a progress proposition is the way seekers attempt to address these two challenges. They need to assume an origin as well.

A propositions assumed progress origin

When crafting a progress proposition, we naturally focus on how to help the seeker reach closer to their progress sought. But we also need to address their progress origin.

The ideal scenario involves customising a proposition to align with the unique origin of each seeker. Vargo & Lush advocate for customisation to be the marketing norm over standardisation (“The Four Service Marketing Myths“). And in certain circumstances it’s essential – doctors must engage in individual consultations with patients to diagnose and provide personalised care from a starting point.

However, customisation requires more effort on the part of the helper. Which often translates to a higher equitable exchange hurdle to engage that proposition.

To address that, we can make assumptions about the seeker’s origin. For instance, the helper might segment seekers based on progress elements.

Segmenting propositions

Segmentation involves grouping seekers based on their progress origin and offering propositions tailored to each group’s needs.

In fact, we can see customisation as an extreme form of segmentation, where each segment corresponds to a unique seeker. As we increase the number of seekers within segments, customisation transforms into assumptions. That reduces helper’s effort and subsequently lowers the equitable exchange progress hurdle.

Common segments include:

  • Mainstream Origin: a widely shared progress origin that a large group of seekers can identify with
  • Empty Origin: a case where the origin is assumed to be that no progress has ever been made
  • Niche origin: a non-mainstream segment of seekers that the helper intends to concentrate on

However, segmentation may make propositions less appealing to those seekers at the fringes of each segment.

There’s another challenge to be aware of when assuming progress origins.

A progress proposition needs to assume a seeker’s origin. The choice can affect progress made (and therefore value that emerges and is recognised by a seeker)

A proposition might assume an origin that is:

  • farther from progress sought than the seeker’s actual position.
  • nearer to progress sought than the seeker’s actual position.

Let’s briefly explore these challenges.

assuming origin is farther away

A proposition that assumes a seeker’s origin is farther away than it actually is may result in the helper providing excessive resources or overly simplified progress-making activities. This could lead to frustration for the seeker.

Imagine learning a language. If available courses assume you know nothing when you already have a basic understanding, engaging with such propositions might leave you bored, waiting for the course to catch up. Alternatively, the frustration could be significant enough to make you abandon your learning attempt.

assuming origin is nearer

On the other hand, a proposition assuming a seeker’s origin to be closer to their desired progress sought than it actually is may result in inadequate resource supplementation. This leaves the seeker facing a lack of resource hurdle.

Going back to learning a language. If a language course assumes you know more than you actually do, you are likely to encounter challenges in following the course effectively.

Relating to value

We recognise that at the progress origin no progress has been made, and consequently, value has emerged to be recognised.

However, as we’ve seen, challenges can arise if there’s a misalignment between a proposition’s assumed origin and the seeker’s progress origin in relation to progress sought. These impact value.

If the proposition assumed origin is farther away from progress sought than seekers real origin then there is a period of no value creation until the progress catches up to seeker’s origin. This might be instantaneous when the seeker can ditch unnecessary resource/progress making steps. Or it might take time.

When the proposition assumes an origin close to progress sought than seeker’s actual origin, then we’ve seen the lack of resource hurdle increases. That may persuade the seeker to not start the attempt and so value is lost.

In both cases we may find a frustrated seeker and value co-destruction occurring.

Relating to innovation

Innovation should aim to get proposition’s origin closer to individual seeker’s origin whilst minimising any increase in the equitable exchange progress hurdle.

Such innovation might be from an incumbent adapting an existing proposition or a new entrant filling an identified gap.



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