Progress Potential

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

Progress potential is the progress state that we phenomenological judge could be reached in a progress attempt.

This judgment is central to the progress seeker decision-making process, whether one is a lone progress seeker or working with a helper and their proposition.

However, helpers may also make progress potential judgements, especially concerning specific individuals or groups of seekers, which may influence their decision to withdraw access to their supplemental resources.

Since we see value as emerging from progress, progress potential is also a prediction of future value.

When we contemplate innovation, it should fundamentally aim to enhance seekers’ judgments of progress potential.

Let’s delve into the dynamics of this potential.

Progress potential

Progress potential is the judgment, at a specific moment, of the progress state that could be reached in a progress attempt. It is one of the named states in the progress economy and part of a pair of phenomenological judgements made, together with progress reached.

progress potential: the phenomenological judgement, at a point in time, of the progress state that could be reached in a progress attempt.

It turns out that there are four perspectives on progress potential:

  • seeker’s judgements when:
    • progressing alone
    • progressing with a particular proposition
  • helper’s judgement of:
    • progress with their proposition (better seen, and discussed, as progress offered)
    • progressing with a particular seeker or groups of seeker.

We’ll explore each of these actors perspectives.

the seeker’s perspective

When a seeker plans a progress attempt, they engage in a unique and phenomenologically judgement of their progress potential, determining the progress state they believe they can reach.

If they feel they can reach their desired state of progress sought, they’re likely to initiate the attempt.

Conversely, when they feel unable to reach progress sought, they may opt not to proceed. This often occurs when they lack the resource, such as skills, knowledge, time, tools, or physical attributes (for example, strength).

Progress potential as seen by a seeker of progressing alone and progressing with a proposition
Progress potential, as seen by a seeker, before a progress attempt is made. Two judgements are seen here. The first is where a seeker feels they can reach towards progress sought on their own. The second is where they feel they can reach when engaging some un-shown progress proposition.

Seekers who lack resources may turn to a progress helper’s proposition, which offers supplementary resources designed to help them reach a state of progress offered (which is presumably close enough to progress sought to be attractive).

Now, the seeker assesses their progress potential when using this proposition before deciding to embark on a progress attempt. This judgment includes the five additional progress hurdles introduced by propositions, which significantly impact their perception.

Something we can also visualise with the following state diagram.

Progress potential as viewed in context of the state transition between progress origin and progress sought

Importantly, seekers continually evaluate their progress potential throughout the progress attempt. If they perceive a reduction in progress potential, it may lead them to abandon the attempt. Perhaps they find new resource they are lacking, or they have less than they previously thought (time, for example). Or they may find the proposition is less adoptable – more complex, or less compatible, or… – than they previously thought.

Interestingly, progress potential may also be judged by the helper.

a helper’s perspective

While the progress economy primarily focuses on seekers, it’s incorrect to assume that helpers do not assess progress potential.

Firstly, during the creation of a proposition, helpers identify the progress state that their proposition can potentially help reach. This initial view of progress potential is better known as “progress offered

Secondly, a helper may assess the progress potential that specific seekers or groups of seekers might achieve with their proposition. Based on this judgment, a helper may decide whether or not to offer access to their supplementary resources.

Progress potential as seen by a helper
Progress potential of progressing with two different seekers, as seen by a helper. Their view based on their proposition is better known as progress offered. Then we also see their judgement of potential with 2 particular propositions. A low potential might lead to the helper denying access to its resources (a low likelihood of seeker reaching progress offered is a waste of resource and risk to not making an equitable service exchange)

These second type of judgments are more likely to occur as a proposition tends towards the middle of the progress proposition continuum. Where seeker and helper are interacting closely. A helper may tire of a seeker if that seeker looks like they may, or are, wasting helper resources or missing resources they need to bring to integrations. In this case we are seeing value co-destruction in action.

In contrast, propositions at the enabling end are goods-heavy, with seekers driving most progress-making activities, reducing the need for helper involvement. Though even here there are exceptions: drug manufacturers refusing to license a drug use for death penalty protocols, for example. Whereas propositions at the relieving end take decisions and involvement away from the seeker. Leaving less room for value co-destruction to occur.

Furthermore, difficulties in helping low-potential seekers reach progress offered risk hindering equitable exchanges (something a helper has as an objective to maximise). For instance, a luxury car dealership may decide to assess the wealth of potential customers (a measure of equitable exchange capability) before fully engaging with them, recognising that not everyone walking in from the street can reach the progress state of leaving with a luxury car.

Measuring progress potential

Can we measure progress potential?

The idea is indeed tempting. After all, we discuss how far progress potential is from progress sought and suggest that if it’s too far, a seeker may choose not to initiate a progress attempt. We’ll even shortly note that a key part of innovation is increasing perceptions of progress potential.

However, measuring potential can be complex. Some of this stems from the fact that progress encompasses not only functional but also non-functional and contextual elements. Furthermore, all three elements may defy precise quantification due to their non-countable nature.

Nevertheless, we frequently introduce artificial measures to enable a quantification of progress, sometimes without full awareness.

artificial scales and measurements

We often introduce artificial scales to provide a sense of progress measurement. These scales can take various forms, including binary pass/fail scales, and they serve as valuable tools for evaluating our progress on different objectives.

For instance, consider the following examples:

  1. Binary Pass/Fail Scales: In some cases, our goals and progress can be easily categorized into a binary pass/fail system. For instance, when aiming to achieve a functional progress sought, like “becoming fluent in Mandarin Chinese,” standardized HSK levels are employed to define proficiency based on the knowledge of specific symbols and grammar points. These levels provide a clear and objective assessment of language proficiency.
  2. Subjective Assessments: In contrast, measuring subjective factors like “safety” can be more challenging. While quantifying safety in terms of, say, the number of deaths per year is relatively straightforward, evaluating how safe someone feels during a road trip while wearing a seat belt is a subjective matter. In such cases, we may resort to asking individuals to rate their feelings on a scale of 1 to 10 to capture their personal perceptions. Alternatively, we might use proxy indicators to gauge safety.
  3. Complex Scoring Mechanisms: In formal contexts, such as B2B bidding processes, seekers may develop intricate scoring mechanisms to assess progress potential in proposals. These mechanisms help evaluate and compare proposals based on predefined criteria. Additionally, techniques like earned value analysis may be employed to artificially track and display progress potential in project management or business contexts.

Helpers often present their measurement of progress potential with their proposition, which as we’ve mentioned is really progress offered, from a sales perspective. For instance “9 out of 10 dentists recommend our toothpaste for freshest results”.

So, with thoughtful consideration, we can assign a scale to virtually anything, provided that all involved parties agree on its validity.

Relating to value

In the progress economy, we view value as emerging through progress—a concept we term “value-through-progress“. Each incremental step toward the progress sought increases the amount of value emerged. This accumulation of value continues until we reach the progress sought, at which point maximum value is realised.

Building on this perspective, we can interpret judgments of progress potential as forecasts of future value (co-) creation.

Relating to innovation

Falling out of this discussion is the notion that innovation should aim to increase perceptions of progress potential. Which means increasing the feeling of progress state that can be reached towards progress sought and reducing one or more of the progress hurdles.

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