Navigating in the unknown 

Effectuation takes the point of departure in that the future is considered as something that can be influenced through actions. In other words, you can create your own possibilities.

The method was developed by Saras Sarasvathy. Sara Sarasvathy is a professor at Virginia University. She developed the basic principles of the theory of effectuation in 2001 and is still working intensively on it today. The worldview that underpins the method, Sarasvathy calls pilot-on-the-plane.

Sarasvathy’s theory of effectuation describes an approach to decision-making and action in processes, where, based on the resources available, one identifies the next, best step in achieving one’s goals. Thus, one can also adjust the direction of the effort in relation to the effect that one’s actions have.

Effectuation stands in contrast to causal logic, where you define a fixed goal and carefully plan the process you will go through to achieve the goal. The causal progress is often not appropriate to use in processes that are characterized by unpredictability and uncertainty, such as. the innovation processes in artistic practice and business.

Effectuation is thus a non-linear approach to working in a non-causal process.

 

Effectuation as teaching method

As a teacher, you can use effectuation to strengthen the student’s understanding of her own process understanding and her ability to act. As a student, you can use the method to develop and strengthen your project as well as to qualify peer-to-peer criticism or feedback. This can be seen in the artistic research (KUV/KUA) as well as in the artistic and cultural entrepreneurship.

Basically, it can be done by letting the student identify the next, best step in a given process. Against this background, the necessary decisions are made, and the student can act on the basis of these based on the four principles of effectuation.

The four principles of effectuation that Sarasvathy has described as part of the method are these:

Bird-in-hand You create solutions with the resources you have available here and now.

Affortable Loss You should only invest it in your project that you are willing to lose.

Crazy Quilt You add new resources to your project by entering into binding collaborations.

Lemonade Mistakes and surprises are inevitable and they should be used to discover and explore new possibilities in the forward movement.

 

You can apply the approach to the extent that it is meaningful for your teaching and guidance of the student. It can e.g. be that you can use effectuation as the basis for a longer course by letting the artistic innovation process be the general focus. Here, the student or students can apply the four principles in the artistic development work during the process.

You can also apply the principles as themes in short, delimited teaching courses or in interdisciplinary processes, where competence clarification (bird-in-hand) can help the students to clarify what they can contribute to the process and the project. It will also contribute to projects arising based on the artistic professionalism.

The approach is also useful in tutoring courses, which aim to build the artistic business, just as you can also use it as a starting point for the entrepreneurial issues and processes that the student must deal with in his practice.

Regardless of how you use effectuation in your teaching or supervision, it is central that you give the student space to act and act independently according to the logic of effectuation – it is the student who is the pilot on the plane.

As a teacher or supervisor, it is important to remember that effectuation as an approach to learning must be used in an iterative process in which students independently apply the method’s worldview and principles to navigate. The approach can therefore not be phased into a tightly framed structure.

You can navigate and work with effectuation by applying four of the principles Sarasvathy has described as part of the method. They come here again:

Bird-in-hand You create solutions with the resources you have available here and now.

Affortable Loss You should only invest it in your project that you are willing to lose.

Crazy Quilt You add new resources to your project by entering into binding collaborations.

Lemonade Mistakes and surprises are inevitable and they should be used to discover and explore new possibilities in the forward movement.

 
1. Bird-in-hand

It’s better to have a bird in hand than ten on the roof. The principle is about creating opportunities and performing actions based on the resources available here and now. It is about effective progress instead of causal processes.

Start the process by asking:

Who are you?
What do you know?
Who do you know?

It may be appropriate to offer knowledge of methods that can support or inspire the application of the Bird-in-hand principle in an entrepreneurship process.

Methods that work particularly well in the application of this principle are mindmap, stakeholder analysis, the actant model and value exercises. You can read more about the individual methods and how you can use them in ENTREWIKI on CAKI’s website.

 
2. Affortable loss

You only have to invest it in your project that which you are willing to lose.

You can minimize the risk in a project by investing only what you are willing to lose – rather than focusing on what you can achieve if the project succeeds.

You thus practice making decisions and performing actions, where you can see any losses if the actions do not have the expected outcome. At the same time, one can maintain control by taking small steps in one direction instead of working towards long-term goals with unpredictable outcomes.

For students, this principle is very much about becoming good at spending their time, so that as much learning as possible is created through the work on their project.

Methods that work particularly well in the application of this principle are Business Model Canvas, Innovation Matrix and Actant Models.

You can read more about the individual methods and how you can use them in ENTREWIKI on CAKI’s website.

 
3. Crazy quilt

The third principle is about binding collaborations. By working strategically with partnerships and collaborations, you can add new resources to your project.

It is first and foremost about how to invite interested and often diverse partners into the process or project rather than seeking out actors who are not really available or interested in participating.

In this lies an understanding that when inviting partners with new and different perspectives into the process, one must also be open to the fact that the project may change as a result. Sarasvathy calls this type of partner collaboration Crazy quilt because it is characterized by variegated and crooked patterns.

In a teaching situation, it is about the students identifying which partners are needed to solve a task at the right times in the process and adjusting the project accordingly.

Methods that work particularly well in the application of this principle are

Ecosystem, value exercises and design-a-workshop.

You can read more about the individual methods and how you can use them in ENTREWIKI on CAKI’s website.

 
4. Lemonade principle

The fourth principle is that detours and errors are inevitable in entrepreneurship processes – and that errors and detours can contribute positively to the project’s development by creating new opportunities. Therefore, the student must practice being able to identify the development opportunities and the learning that may be in these situations.

As a teacher or supervisor, you should make students aware that it may be ok to step aside in the process – it may be an unprecedented path that leads to new opportunities, and it is both accepted and expected. It is about practising identifying and dealing with unforeseen situations in one’s own process.

In relation to a teaching course that ends with a test, it can be an advantage to write in the learning objectives for the course that it is expected that detours will occur during the process and that mistakes are accepted. In this connection, the principle also agrees well with entrepreneurship [1] as a learning goal.

The following methods can support or inspire the application of the lemonade principle in an entrepreneurship process: pre-typing, prototypes and sketches.

 
References

www.effectuation.org

Sarasvathy, S (2001): What makes entrepreneurs entrepreneurial, The Darden Graduate School of Business Administration

Sarasvathy, S et. al. (2011): Effectual Entrepreneurship. Routledge

[1] See “Foretagsomhed” i ENTREWIKI

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