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  • Writer's pictureLucy Hatt

Visualising "Taking action"



Vikas Kapil, Dave Jarman and I have been working on a series of animations to illustrate the threshold concepts of entrepreneurial thinking. This is the sixth threshold concept in our collection of seven. You can read about the whole set at www.lucyhatt.co.uk.


This is how we're envisaging "Taking Action"


To explain this threshold concept, we're using the principle of "contrast", which is an aspect of Variation Theory*, where we learn about something by recognising the values of an aspect.


Thinking entrepreneurially must involve taking action too.  The intention to create value must be translated into action for value to be created.   To illustrate this concept, let’s look at four different situations where there’s a either problem to solve or an opportunity to be taken.

Imagine two leaking sail boats, each with one sailor on board. The sailor in one boat makes long and complex plans that are never ready so the boat sinks before the boat reaches the shore, and they must swim the rest of the way. The sailor in the other boat takes action and bails out the water, enabling the boat to say afloat until the wind blows it ashore.

Imagine two office workers seated at desks in a busy open plan office near a door with hinges that squeak noisily every time it’s used. One of them makes plans to fix the problem but doubts the likely success of their plans, dwells on the possible risks and downsides, and consequently fails to execute them. The other takes action to oil the door hinge and silences the door.

Imagine two prospective gym owners looking at a vacant commercial property for rent. One dreams up expensive and unrealistic plans for the building, despite having no financial or other means to execute them. The other takes action, starting with what they can, running fitness classes with their home music equipment in the empty shell until they can gather more resource.

Imagine two care-home owners with lots of ideas for resident activities. One is overwhelmed with all the ideas they have and can’t choose between them. Indecision prevents any action. The other also has lots of ideas and devises a way to decide between them by writing each one on a handkerchief, pinning the handkerchiefs to a clothesline, and waiting for the wind to blow them away one by one. The final idea to blow away is the one they choose to implement. Although they’ve found a way of deciding, it’s taken too long, and they realise too late that all their residents have fallen asleep, so no activity is possible.

Taking action is important but the action taken must be timely too. And sometimes the right action is no action - choosing not to take action conserves resource.

Intention PLUS action is all-important to create or exploit an opportunity for value.   People who think entrepreneurially are good decision makers, understanding and evaluating what is necessary to create value, what is optional, what is unnecessary, and when and when not to take action.

*See: Marton, F., Runesson, U., & Tsui, A. B. M. (2004). The space of learning. In F. Marton, A. B. M. Tsui, P. P. M. Chik, P. Y. Ko, & M. L. Lo (Eds.), Classroom discourse and the space of learning. Mahwah, NJ: Laurence Erlbaum.

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