Elements of Entrepreneurial Expertise
New Horizons in Entrepreneurship series
Chapter 4: Understanding Effectuation: Problem Space and Solution Principles
4. Understanding eﬀectuation: problem space and solution principles The contrasting metaphors of a patchwork quilt and a jigsaw puzzle capture the diﬀerence between an eﬀectual and a causal logic of action. The prevailing myth of the entrepreneur is that of a visionary who is able to see farther into the future than the average person, who solves the complex jigsaw puzzle of a proﬁtable opportunity more quickly and eﬃciently than others, bringing together ﬁnancial resources, key people and capabilities that create a large and sustainable competitive advantage. But the problem with the jigsaw puzzle metaphor is that the picture – the market opportunity – already exists, so entrepreneurship is primarily a task of discovery. The expert entrepreneurs in the study, irrespective of whether they saw themselves as visionaries or not, did not in the actual experiment behave as though the picture existed and was just waiting to be put together. Instead, they proceeded rather like an accomplished quilter making a patchwork quilt. Making a patchwork quilt diﬀers from solving a jigsaw puzzle in at least three ways. 1. The quilter has wider latitude than the puzzle solver in putting together the pattern. Even when she begins with a basket of random patches, she can choose which patches to use and juxtapose them in a way that she personally ﬁnds pleasing and meaningful. Large quilting projects are usually communal: a good quilter works with others who bring their own baskets of patches along with their tastes and...
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