Progress Resource Mix

Dr. Adam Tacy PhD, MBA avatar
The idea

Helpers offer access to a subset of their resources to aid seekers in progress attempts – a progress resource mix.

This mix is a proposition specific combination of seeker facing employees, systems, data, goods, physical resources, and locations.

Altering the mix is a fingerprint in many innovations such as digital transformation, product as a service, digital twins, artificial intelligence, and more.

Progress resource mix

In this article we’re focussing on the middle function of the purpose of a helper, executing:

the purpose of a progress helper is to attract maximum equitable service exchange (number or size) with progress seekers – as such a progress helper has three, and only three, functions:

  • marketing – continuous discovery of ever evolving progress sought
  • executing – delivery of progress offered
  • innovating – continuous innovation of progress offered towards progress sought

In practical terms, this means that a helper offers a specific subset of their resources to the seeker as part of a progress proposition. These resources are then used for integration in progress-making activities. We refer to this subset of resources as the progress resource mix.

progress resources mix: a subset of a helpers resources offered to another actor for use during progress attempts in resource integrations.

Each resource represents a capturing entity of skills and knowledge. It’s important to note that in the progress economy, we consider all resources to be on the same level. This means there is no distinction between goods and services – as explored further here. And so we can generally replace one resource with another from the list (see altering the resource mix discussion below).

The only distinction we make regarding resources is how they contribute to progress. Resources that facilitate progress by acting on other resources are called operant resources, while resources that need to be acted upon in order for progress to occur are referred to as operand resources.

Elements of the mix

Whilst a helper has access to many resources, they offer only a subset of resource types to the seeker. Moreover, within this subset, they offer another those that are seeker facing. Namely:

  • employees
  • systems
  • data
  • goods
  • physical resources
  • locations

Examples of these resources are:

employeesoperantcall centre operative, mechanic, chef, doctor, nurse, driver…
systemsoperant/ operandsmart phone app, chatbot, telephone, phone menus, atm, artificial intelligence/machine learning …
dataoperandmaps, information, lists, personal data, categorised/labelled data etc
goodsoperandphysical goods: food, cars, vinyl records, hammers
digital goods: music/video streams, e-books, bitcoin
physical resourcesoperandas for goods, except seeker ownership never transfers to seeker.
locationsoperandhospital, mechanics garage

We can now complete our definition of the progress resource mix as follows:

progress resources mix: a subset of a helpers resources offered to another actor for use during progress attempts in resource integrations.

It comprises proposition specific levels (maybe none) of six, generally interchangeable, skills and knowledge encapsulating resources:

  • employees,
  • systems,
  • data
  • goods,
  • physical resources
  • locations

Let’s briefly explore each of these in turn and link to more detailed explorations.


The employees included in the resource mix are the human resources of a helper who directly engage with the seeker. They are considered operand resources and play a vital role in providing strategic benefits (according to service dominant logic). You may be familiar with the following three quotes, which emphasise the significance of employees:

Clients do not come first, employees come first. If you take care of employees, they will take care of the clients

Richard Branson


We built Starbucks brand first with our people, not with consumers. Because we believed the best way to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers was to hire and train great people, we invested in our employees

Howard Schultz


It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do

Steve Jobs

They can play an important role in attempting to reverse or reduce any

Employees can play a crucial role in mitigating or minimising value co-destruction. This refers to situations where progress is hampered by one or both parties.

While employees as a resource can be replaced by systems, goods, or a combination, it’s not always a straightforward one-to-one replacement, and the seeker may face increased knowledge requirements.


The systems that seekers can interact with can be either an operant or an operand resource.

Let’s consider a couple of examples. A word processor is an operand resource since it requires action to make progress. On the other hand, a telephone menu system, where callers are directed to different options by pressing specific numbers, appears to apply knowledge to guide calls to appropriate handlers, making it an operant resource.

In today’s context, we often see systems as IT systems. To paraphrase a famous quote by Marc Andreessen, we could say that:

resource mixes heavy on systems are eating the world

updating Marc Andreessen’s “software is eating the world”

However, IT systems are not the exclusive means of progress.

Interestingly, systems can also encompass some or all of the proposed progress-making activities of a progress proposition. Now those proposed activities become more compulsory to follow than optional.

Anything a system can do can be done by an employee and to a lesser extent a combination of goods.


Data is undoubtedly an operant resource as it captures valuable knowledge. But there is little skills captured by data. And that makes it stands apart from other resources in the mix. It is difficult to replace directly in the mix.

We could make the argument that data be considered as digital goods. Or that it is so closely associated with systems that it should sit in that category. However, I believe it deserves to be elevated to a first-class citizen in the resource mix due to its immense significance in today’s world.


Goods, which come in physical or digital form, are operand resources within the resource mix. Their role is to freeze specific aspects of a helper’s skills and knowledge, allowing for their distribution across time and location. We unfreeze these frozen skills and knowledge when a resource integration occurs.

For instance, consider an electric drill. It encapsulates the manufacturer’s expertise in transforming electricity into a cutting device for various materials. When you use the drill, you unfreeze that knowledge. But you also need to integrate your own knowledge of where you want the hole and whether the drill is suitable for the material you’re working with.

A defining aspect of goods is that ownership of them permanently transfers from the helper to the seeker as part of the service exchange.

Since goods capture skills and competence, we can replace them with other components within the resource mix.

Physical resources

Physical resources within the resource mix refer to goods where access control is temporarily transferred to the progress seeker. Although ownership is never transferred.

For example, in a car rental service, the rental car is a physical resource since ownership remains with the helper but control is given to the renter. This concept even extends to multi-sided relationshipsi, such as in Airbnb, where the accommodation is a physical resource. In this case, Airbnb acts as a facilitator, connecting other helpers (hosts) with seekers (guests).

Ownership of physical resources has sparked interesting discussions, particularly in relation to digital assets like streamed songs, videos, and books. Many seekers might consider these goods. However, instances like when Amazon deleted e-books from users’ devices revealed that ownership was not transferred to the users in that case. Similarly, music streaming sites typically license music to users rather than transferring ownership.


Locations can be important in making progress. They encapsulate helpers knowledge and skills on what’s needed location-wise to make progress. A hospital with it’s sterile rooms; a garage with inspection pits; cinema’s with their state of art screens and sound systems. They cover physical, online and virtual spaces.

They can be replaced by seekers own locations together with some combination of goods and employees.

Crafting a resource mix

The progress helper is responsible for understanding and designing the appropriate progress resource mix. This mix should consider how it can fulfil functional, non-functional, and contextual progress sought while minimizing the six progress hurdles.

For instance, if the progress sought is “to have enough power at home”, offering a home-built nuclear reactor as a goods is likely to face challenges on multiple hurdles such as adoptability, resistance, lack of resources, and lack of confidence. Providing it as a physical resource with minimal employee assistance won’t significantly reduce these hurdles.

Two hurdles closely related to the resource mix are the misalignment on the progress proposition continuum and the equitable service exchange hurdles.

Let’s consider another example of progress sought: getting nourishment. And three potential offerings: i) cooking at home, ii) eating at a buffet restaurant, and iii) dining at a 4-star restaurant. Each offering has a different resource mix, as depicted in the radar diagram below.

Cooking at home

Cooking at home is a proposition that heavily relies on goods, particularly cooking ingredients. Seekers need to have their own resources (more goods) such as pots, pans, and a cooker, as well as a suitable location to cook.

They also need to possess cooking skills, although they can use another enabling proposition with proposed progress-making activities: a recipe book or website for guidance. Additionally, they are responsible for the after-dinner cleaning.

This approach is highly dependent on enabling propositions that provide (or have previously provided) the necessary goods related resources. However, it requires the least amount of equitable service exchange.

The buffet restaurant

At a buffet restaurant, the resource mix shifts. Now we see employees, a location, and possibly a booking system introduced.

Seekers’ knowledge requirement reduces to knowing their food preferences. The seeker must still fill their own plate, but the choice is limited to what the restaurant offers. The restaurant employees take care of cooking the food and cleaning the location.

As we’ve move along the proposition continuum towards relieving propositions, we naturally see the equitable service exchange increasing.

4* restaurant

In a 4* restaurant, the focus is on the chef’s expertise and the skills of the waiting staff, maître d’, and sommelier. These are all employees. The location and servicescape play an important role.

Seekers have little to do except relax and enjoy the culinary experience presented to them. For such a level of service,we should expect a high equitable service exchange.

When it cones to the misalignment hurdle, if the seeker is looking to cook themselves (perhaps for enjoyment, or to impress) then the other two offerings are increasingly misaligned of the proposition continuum. Whereas if they are looking for the ultimate experience and doing nothing, then cooking at home is greatly misaligned.

As an aside, here’s a good example of how the progress economy, and the interchangeable resource mix, encourages us to addresses Levitt’s marketing myopia – a contributor to poor innovation performance. By focussing on progress

People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!

Levitt, as quoted in Christensen’s 2006 article “What Customers Want from Your Products

There is plenty of opportunity within and across elements for hunting innovation. And we find the fingerprint of altering the levels of elements in a proposition’s mix in many past and current trends. Including product as a service/servitization, digitization, digital twins, moving online etc.

Altering a service mix – innovation

When we alter the service mix it is often the fingerprint of innovation. This flexibility is possible because the resources in the mix can be interchanged.

Here are some examples of innovative approaches that demonstrate this characteristic:

Innovation move“from” Resource Mix“to” Resource Mix
Product as a Service / Servitizationgoodsphysical resources +
systems (asset management) and potentially employees 
digitizationpaper/mechanical based systems and potentially employeesdigital systems
artificial intelligencesmall number of employees holding and applying skills and knowledgescalable digital system capturing and applying skills and knowledge
digital twinsgoodsphysical resource + systems (the digital twin) and potentially employees to monitor
bricks to clicksphysical locations + employeesvirtual locations, systems + different employee skills
How the progress resource mix changes for some well known innovation moves.

These examples demonstrate progress resource mix changes in well-known innovation moves. However, there are practical considerations when altering the resource mix.

For instance, a hospital embodies the knowledge and skills required to maintain a sterile and sanitized environment. Theoretically, we could replace a hospital by any location, such as a patient’s own bedroom, along with a combination of goods (cleaning equipment) and employees (cleaners). However, in practice, performing surgery in a patient’s home would increase the equitable service exchange size and likely raise the lack of confidence progress hurdles. Additionally, a hospital location offers other benefits like access to emergency skills.

Another aspect to consider when altering the mix is the impact on the seeker. Let’s take the simple example of a handyman hanging up a picture for you. In this case, you integrate with one employee, and all you need to know is where you want the picture hung. Converting the employee into goods would require several goods and an increased knowledge and skill set from the seeker (how to use the goods, the proper sequence, how to address issues, etc.).

Wrapping up

The progress resource mix refers to resources offered by a helper to a progress seeker. These resources are a progress specific combination of six interchangeable resources: employees, systems, data, goods (physical and digital), physical resources (goods where ownership is not transferred), and locations (physical and virtual). A helper offers it to help a seeker make progress.

Designing the appropriate resource mix is the responsibility of the progress helper, considering functional, non-functional, and contextual progress sought while minimising progress hurdles. In particular the misalignment on the proposition continuum and equitable service exchange hurdles.

Altering the resource mix is a common characteristic of innovative approaches such as digital transformation, product as a service, digital twins, artificial intelligence, and more. Though there are considerations required when altering the mix, such as the impact placed on the seeker.

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