We offer a state-of-the-art approach to growing your business under uncertainty.
The Corporate Principles help you decide 'What to do next?'
The 5 Corporate Principles
The 5 Corporate Principles
Effectuation is a set of (5) decision-making principles expert entrepreneurs are observed to employ in situations of true uncertainty.
BIRD IN HAND principle
- start with your means -
We love the bird in hand principle. It is so opposite to what most working for a corporate feel and think. If you fully grasp the full potential of this principle, you will start to see that a corporate might well be the best place to be as an entrepreneur. The entire corporate is one big candy shop! Entrepreneurs have been standing outside of corporates for years, feeling really jealous. Jealous about all the means available within a corporate setting! Take a moment to imagine what one could create if only you had these means available…
How could you even assess all the means??
Simple, ask yourself:
Who are we?
- What are our values?
- What are our beliefs?
- What do we think should be our role in society?
- What value do we want to create in the future?
- Why do we think this matters?
- What matters to me?
What do we know?
- What are our core activities?
- What is that we have superior knowledge about?
- What do we consider our core competences?
- What assets do we own?
Who do we know?
- Who do we consider network partners with whom we can co-create new business models with?
- Who do we consider to be our most demanding clients?
- Who do do we know, that knows… well you’ll probably got it.
What do I have?
- Do we have slack production capacity that I can use?
- Is there a budget?
- What are the current sales channels can we use?
- What R&D resources can we utilize?
- Is there an empty floor available in one of our buildings?
Massive load of means… Means with which you can be creative with to dream up all sorts of creative and imagined. These ends should be inspiring and connected to the current strategy and mission of the organization in order to increase the odds of being able to move on to the next step. Of course, you should always challenge the status quo, make sure you connect with the people whose minds you want to influence to shift paradigms…
AFFORDABLE LOSS principle
- The future can’t be predicted -
In most corporates, the people we ask to develop and write new business development plans are the ones with the greatest ideas. This results in corporate templates that have been designed with the utmost care.
Most important questions to be answered:
- What will you create EXACTLY?
- What will it cost?
- When will we break-even?
- What will the ROI be?
- How about EBIT?
- What revenues do you expect in the upcoming five years?
To those who apply Effectuation, the questions above are not very brilliant…to put it mildly. We live in a world that changes faster than we can learn. It’s only when we can admit that we can’t predict the future that we stand a chance at becoming in control. The simple notion that the future can’t be predicted forces us to start shifting from ‘linear home run philosophies’ towards organic and preferably validated learning. In other words, smaller bets/investments allow us to gain insight by moving forward in an affordable way. While it was once thought that the entrepreneurs were the insane risk-takers, it turns out that it was really all the corporate predictors that were taking all the risks. An enormous crisis is usually a consequence of taking such risks.
Apply the affordable loss principle and ask yourself:
- Can we afford (financially) what we are investing in this initiative?
- Are we aware of the possible negative impact a disaster would have on our current business image?
- How could we decrease the potential risk we are taking and while still moving forward?
CRAZY QUILT principle
- form partnerships -
The crazy quilt symbolizes a collaboration between partners. Every partner is represented as a unique peace of cloth. These pieces of cloth are sewed into a quilt by a thread symbolizing the pre-commitment each partner offers one another.
Two of the most important reasons for corporates NOT to pursue an opportunity in an unpredictable market is either not having the means or not willing to invest them because they don’t want to take the risks and uncertainties that are perceived to come with the package.
What the bird in hand and the affordable loss principles teach us is how to handle perceived risks and that we should start with available means and be creative with them. Nevertheless, the conclusion can still be the same. It’s too risky and contains too many uncertainties for the corporate.
In these cases, entrepreneurs turn to collaboration for solutions, which is described by this crazy quilt principle. Looking for quilting partners in your network offers you launching customers as well as partners that contribute means to limit investments and offer experience with the aspects that might make the next step less unpredictable and uncertain. In other words, the crazy quilt principle offers you an approach to further improve and build value propositions while limiting the downside of the risk involved. This eventually leads to an affordable next step with minimal uncertainty.
A very practical principle, especially for corporates that have a low risk-taking propensity and an diverse network of possible quilting partners.
- leverage contingencies -
In an unfamiliar and rapidly changing market, learning faster than your competitor is key. When moving forward under uncertainty, you will come across quite a few surprises. Some positive, often wrongly perceived as luck, and some negative with even the potential to kill your entire project. In our opinion, you should never kill a project. If there is a lemon that convinces you to do so, slice the lemon and juice it. Study the juice and understand what the lemon is trying to teach you. It should offer you directions to change course and not simply abandon ship.
A lot of people will tell you to fail forward fast, fail often and that failure is a good thing as it offers you a learning experience. We believe that we should rethink what we consider failure. Failure is only failure in our opinion, when the fat lady has stopped singing. Failure is only true failure when we stop moving forward and don’t do anything with what was learned. Apple has tried to bring something that we could consider an iPad almost half a century ago and that didn’t work at the time. We think this learning experience taught Jobs to have an App Store in place. The introduction should never have been considered to be a failure but it should be seen as an experiment that offered learning possibilities. There are a lot of science based organizations in the world and even they don’t experiment in the market, only safely in the labs…
If the world offers you lemons, make lemonade. Learn from surprises and adapt.
Accountability is a good thing because it makes us persevere, it makes us strive to complete tasks but it also keeps us from adapting ideas that are less than brilliant. We have passed the tipping point of accountability. We are too much focused on achieving the short term results and financial incentives and that has killed adaptability and learning. We have to rethink the balance between accountability and learning in most corporates. The shareholders are mostly share-traders and are simply in it for the short-term trading possibilities where most other stakeholders are in it for the long-term. We need to refocus and aim for the long-term when operating in an unpredictable, uncertain and rapidly changing market. This translates to experimentation, collaboration and learning. This will increase your chances for survival and offers you the opportunity to really make a difference.
PILOT IN THE PLANE principle
- don’t predict, co-create -
Albert Einstein defined INSANITY as: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. If we keep applying causal linear thinking in situations where the future can’t be predicted, we will never become successful. We need to understand that the world has changed. We can’t keep up with the speed of change if we don’t change our approach and mindset.
We need to transform from passengers in a corporate plane, in which others are responsible for our comfort and future, to pilots taking charge and co-creating the future. Effectuators, the pilots in the plane, apply all the knowledge that is handed to you through this website and the services we offer you through Effectuation-Intelligence. If you don’t act upon it, nothing will change. The only thing that will change is your success-rate, and that won’t be for the better. As the world becomes more volatile, transparent and in a constant state of flux, applying the effectuation principles will only become more and more important.
It’s all up to you
What you do in the next couple of hours is crucial.
Please join the movement, share the insights and, most importantly, ACT upon them.
Teams focusing on the creation of new, repeatable, scalable and profitable business models need both a different mindset and toolset than is normally required when executing a known business model.
As a result of conducting intensive and rigorous research, we have been able to develop a new way for established companies to become more entrepreneurial without having to risk a great amount of resources and potential losses. We believe this is important because adaptability increases performance potential, especially during periods of exponential change. We achieve this by unleashing hidden and unused potential by teaching our clients and guiding them through the entrepreneurial discipline.
Through this intensive program, you, as a business executive, will set the direction for your talented professionals. After that, it will be up to them to find and create new, repeatable, scalable, and profitable business modes within a limited period of time.
In collaboration with an extensive and amazing team of academics and (corporate) entrepreneurs, we can orchestrate a time-sensitive approach which offers you:
- Increased entrepreneurial expertise of your talents
- An extensive new entrepreneurial toolbox
- New, scalable and profitable business models that will be pitched to you at the end of our program
Together we will unleash the potential of your organization and will grow the entrepreneurial capabilities creating new pathways that will facilitate growth from within.
By attending these stimulating and enriching gatherings, you will be provided with a new tool set, principles, a roadmap, and fresh insights that will empower you to increase your impact as an orchestrator of meaningful change, even when you lack formal hierarchical power.
The gatherings include multiple surprise speakers who serve as agents of change. Through their wisdom, experience, and insights, they will challenge you to take a different approach to change, one that will guide you towards your own ‘Destination Unknown’…
Surround yourself with open-minded adventure-seekers who are bored with operational excellence initiatives. Together, you will share insights and ideas that will improve your personal impact when operating in uncertain and unpredictable environments. Awaken your entrepreneurial mind!
It’s our ambition to inspire established companies to adopt and embrace policies and practices that are more entrepreneurial. What is yours?
We greatly look forward to meeting you and sharing our insights about the unpredictable world of effectual change.
- The current pace of organizational learning should meet the pace of change.
- The environments in which large organizations operate are unpredictable.
- The focus on accountability has killed organizational learning, which needs to be restored.
- In current markets: learning capability is the true competitive advantage.
- Corporate Effectuation offers the necessary mindset and should be learned.
- Ambidextrous high performance organizations are driven by value.
- Large organizations that also operate effectually will become more efficient and effective.
- We need to act effectually now and co-create a better (corporate) world.
We are more than willing to show you what we can do for your company. If you recognize and relate to the reasons above, let us know!
Effectuation originated out of extensive research of Saras Sarasvathy under supervision of Nobel prize winner, Herbert Simon, in 2001. Saras researched the ways in which entrepreneurs carry out and conduct business. She discovered five principles, principles that are now available to every manager and employee, which are fundamental for success. Expert entrepreneurs prefer and apply effectuation as a consequence of their long-term experience of action under uncertain conditions. What we have done is translated these valuable principles to the corporate world in a way that offers you everything you need in order to unleash the full potential that your talented employees and available means could possibly offer.
In most corporates, professionals that want to develop a career are forced into leadership positions. The result: losing an excellent professional and gaining a mediocre manager. This should change due to the fact that we are dependent on the impact knowledge workers (i.e. the professionals in an organization) have while lacking formal hierarchical authority.
Professionals have to be well connected in order to have an early stage impact within the organization’s value chain and also be well connected outside of the organization to be able to assess the need for adaptability and sense for co-creation opportunities to ensure sustainability and success. Of course, this differs per level within each organization. For instance, two different programs are offered at Rabobank. One is focused on the mid-level professionals that need to increase their impact on co-creation within the current value chains, and the other program is for senior/executive-level professionals who are focused on the orchestration of value, which is at a more strategic level.
We started by assessing the personal passions and beliefs of each team member involved. The results of the assessment were used to highlight strengths, commonalities, and to show the others that each one had something to fight for as a cohesive team. While it was seemingly divided, we quickly found that the logistics division of the organization was far from dead. It quickly became clear that the division of this unit could be transformed into a true value-creating platform (Building a Mountain) that would transform them into a dominant market leader. Fred van Ommen and Corina Kuiper describe the idea behind ‘Building a Mountain’ in our latest book, Orchestration of Effectuation. After engaging in multiple steps of the destination unknown process, the team was able to locate a path that lead to growth and strategic adaptability.
We thank Managing Director, Erik Brink, and Commercial Director, Jan Hunze, for their courage and trustthey offered us. There were two essential aspects of working with these two senior Corporate Effectuating heroes. First, all we did was challenge them and provide them with the tools. Second, they showed that there is a discipline in corporate entrepreneurship if you are willing to stop predicting and start co-creating.
Want to learn more? Read the Dutch blog post by Ludo Oelrich, Director of Strategic Business Development of PostNL
Our network is backed and supported by the Society for Effectual Action (SEA) an organization of leading scientists in the field of uncertainty management. We cooperate with leading scholars such as Saras D. Sarasvathy (Darden, University of Virginia) Stuart Read (IMD Lausanne) and Nicholas Dew (Naval Postgraduate School, CA).
Combining the existing means of a corporate and the mindset of an expert entrepreneur will allow businesses to prosper and thrive in ways that are unimaginable when using causal logic. Simply, it’s our passion and ambition to transform larger organizations into entrepreneurial powerhouses that are equally entrepreneurial as serial entrepreneurs. Doing so adds exponential value to both their customers and society as a whole. Creating opportunities for validation, collaboration, and the production and delivery of goods and services is our number one goal.
Corporate Effectuation is designed by Thomas Blekman and is based on the scientific findings of Saras Sarasvathy:
“For several years now, Thomas has been working to bring effectual entrepreneurship to the corporate world.
In the process, he has built his own toolbox on the topic. I commend his efforts and am happy to learn from him.”
– Prof.dr. Saras Sarasvathy, Isadore Horween Research Associate Professor and founder of the Effectuation theory, University of Virginia, The Darden School of Business.
So if you are operating in a dynamic and unpredictable environment and want to learn how you can better cope with unpredictability while achieving sustainable growth, contact us so we can arrange a meeting.
Your advantages by doing so:
- Innovative and entrepreneurial behavior within your organization
- Uncertainty in the market is used to your advantage
- Leadership is developed for turbulent times
- New business and successful product/service introductions
- Breakthroughs by teams achieved while day-to-day business continues
The thorough scientific approach utilized by the program has proven to be effective in projects that contain a high degree of uncertainty. With Destination Unknown, we accelerate the process of development, co-creation, new business development and the promotion of entrepreneurial behavior. Because of this, new business developments occur more rapidly and with greater success; incorporate greater levels of involvement from organizational members; and are carried out using existing budgets and resources.
As we see, know and understand, not everyone has this entrepreneurial mindset. Therefore, we aim to make the scientific basis of entrepreneurship understandable, concrete, implementable, feasible and fun.
Time and again we see that organizations become inspired by the ways experienced entrepreneurs think and act. When using the Effectuation mindset, the DNA of businesses is transformed, they become future-oriented, decisive, and executive. This transformation adds value and more opportunities to achieve success in an ever-changing world.
In everything we do, we continue to lead the market and will never stop innovating and enriching ourselves with new insights. Intrinsic curiosity is embedded within our DNA. Our belief in application, vigor, and concretization is our motivation. The positive transformation of people and companies is our evidence.