Adjacent (almost) possible and how projects influence priorities in companies

Companies constantly introduce changes, for various reasons and with different results. Talking about the change, it is needed to define what change should be introduced and what are the expectations from the change. In fact, it starts with expectations, i.e. goals, and then activities are defined to achieve desired goals. Sometimes, it is difficult to design goals precisely, but the direction of the action seems to be clear. Also, an always limiting factor is the resources the company has for making the desired change. It is interesting to observe interactions between companies and projects taking into account vector theory of change and adjacent possible (Vector theory of change –

Also, the company defines the direction it wants to go in, i.e. defines the area in which it wants to introduce changes. Then evaluates what is needed to achieve a change. From the point of view of the company, adjacent possible is something they can achieve with their own resources. So, no external resources and support are needed. Projects provide additional resources and support, so that adjacent possibilities are bigger. From the point of view of a company it would be adjacent almost possible, i.e. activities that they are interested in and have some, but not all, resources to undertake these activities. And exactly those missing resources come from projects, making the action possible for the company. Therefore, it is important for project designers and implementers to identify this adjacent almost possible area because their activities are focused exactly on that area, i.e. on something companies are willing to do, have some resources, but also lack some, so they cannot do that themselves, without external support. The support needed becomes a key focus of the project.

However, there are more things a company can achieve with their resources and even more if some support is provided. For example, a company may invest in new equipment or in human resources development. If the company does this with its own resources, it decides independently what will be the area of the first next investment. Participation in projects may change that. Namely, projects have their own agenda and by providing support to companies, they may influence the agenda and priorities of companies, who react to a project as an opportunity to do something they find useful, but not top priority. Also, the project increases possibilities of a company by adding resources but may also impact priorities of the company. For example, priority for the company without project support and influence may be equipment, but with project support and influence, renewable energy sources.

It may happen that these priorities are the same, of course, but the impression is that often projects target areas that are acceptable, but not a priority for a company. Thus, projects are influencing agenda of the company by imposing their priorities and stimulating the company to adjust their priorities and use the project as an opportunity for dealing with an issue that is needed, but not currently a priority for the company.

Sometimes project support may give the company an early incentive to enter the area that is increasingly important for long-term competitiveness, but it could also direct a company resource into a direction that is not the best option for the company at the given time, since there may be other areas that should be treated as priorities, promising better effect for the company. This emphasizes how important it is to design measures for supporting companies well.

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