Projectability

Day to day progress for any firm involves transitions from existing to projected states of affairs. Accomplishing these transitions is strongly affected by a firm's projectability - the extent to which its instantiation in projected states of affairs becomes more probable as transitions proceed. 

Projecting & Probabilities. 'Projecting' involves a firm's virtually instantiating itself in the targeted sphere. A firm is ‘projectable’ when there is an actionable probability that the state of affairs will be realized. Suppose that on May 1, John can run a hundred yards before he is too tired to continue. He projects a state of affairs – a version of his reality on June 1 – in which he will run a marathon. In this case, John is not projectable. There is (presumably) no actionable probability that the projected state of affairs will be realized.

Here the improbability of John's projection is patent, but business firms make similar errors with surprising frequency. There are various reasons. One common pattern is that internal or external pressures (management, board or shareholder expectations, for instance) cloud reasoned judgment or displace it altogether. In other cases, the improbability of the projection is brooding, but decision-makers move ahead nonetheless on the presumption that the firm somehow will 'find a way' to reach the targeted sphere. Sometimes this works, but usually it doesn't. 

Apart from these kinds of lapses, however, projectability assessments fail most often because firms quite simply do not undertake substantive probability determinations. This can result from over-confidence in business intuition or acumen, or from pressures to act quickly, and from other causes. But the root cause is that the firm's sensibilities concerning the concrete, real-world significance of probabilities and the means of adjusting them are not adequately developed, remaining largely at the stage of instinct. When this dynamic is at work, a firm might still succeed but it hasn't hedged its path to the projected state of affairs. 

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Enabling Effects. Projected states of affairs are imagined and sought-for because their realization will enlarge understanding, capability, independence, flexibility, or have other enabling effects. In the projected sphere the firm will have greater power to achieve the purposes of its existence. 

This dynamic is implicit in the notion of progress, but it is important to consider the underlying explanation. Any state of affairs can be defined by bounds and conditions which, among other things, account for effective actions within it and limit by quality the types of firms able to abide its dynamics. This is a commonplace idea. The nature of the reality in which a college football player excels is different than the reality in which a professional player excels. They are distinguishable spheres, defined and upheld by dynamics of efficacy - premier performance, for instance - that are similar in certain ways but different in the ways that make the latter the more highly-valued and the more exclusive space. To succeed at the professional level a college player 'becomes different' - he evolves to satisfy the requirements of that sphere.

When a projected state of affairs ostensibly has been realized, this suggests that the firm is abiding the bounds and conditions of that space. Its behavior is consistent with that sphere's dynamics of stability and yield. If the firm actually has internalized the distinguishing character of the space, the now-realized state of affairs will facilitate the firm's growth and deeper instantiation within commercial reality. On the other hand, if the firm's behavior is not authentic in that way, there will be merely temporary fruition, followed by increasing disability and impotence.