Effectual thinking and causal thinking might seem to be two different concepts but in essence, I would argue that they are not mutually exclusive. As discussed throughout the posts this week, Hisrich (2020) describes causal thinking as starting “with a desired outcome and focuses on the means to generate the outcome” and effectual thinking as starting with the means and forming the goals and outcomes as part of the process. That being said, an entrepreneur would need both of these those process utilized together in order to achieve success.
In terms of being an entrepreneur, one must have a vision of a deliverable because without knowing what one is trying to sell, one doesn’t have a general path to pursue. Are you developing a pharmaceutical drug? A medical device? A new computer operating system perhaps? There has to be a direction at the very least and with this, one would need to gather the materials needed to achieve this end or at least get started. As the Society for Effectual Action (2018) puts it, causal thinking relies on the goal “if I can predict the future, I can control it”. But that is a goal that may give a general direction, the effectual thinking will truly dictate how one gets there. For example, the overview macro picture of the goal would be “I want to deliver a new computer operating system” and so the entrepreneur knows the types of talents and resources that he/she would need to gather to drive towards this goal. However, once the talent and resources have been categorized, it will be effectual thinking and processing that will drive the development of what this new operating system can do. I would then argue that in responding to a problem statement, causal thinking is the “what” and effectual thinking would be the “how”.
In terms of my own career path, this is very common. I work in the medical technology field and we have a cause that we work towards. We want to deliver a relevant medical device that is geared towards brain modulations for example. That is our “what”, our cause, our goal, if you will. However, how we get there is not straight forward. We have engineers and scientists from all walks of life and from every discipline, all with specialized knowledge. We have certain tools to work with and can/will acquire more if needed. We take stock of what we do have and what we don’t but in the end, the product that is delivered is usually the best possible outcome driven by these assessments. I have undergone many of the technical feasibility assessments to see what is science fiction and what can be turned into science fact. It is this effectual thinking driven by a given cause that allows products to be delivered on the market.
Hisrich, R., Peters, M., and Shepherd, D. (2020) Entrepreneurship (11th ed). McGraw-Hill.
Society for Effectual Action. (2018). Effectuation 101. https://www.effectuation.org/?page_id=207. Retrieved November 2, 2021.
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