I first heard about this as a question around which came first and the challenge of studying causality in somewhat circular systems. But then it was also characterised as a problem when we want to develop a new system to displace the prevailing one. It is some kind of situation where you need something to start another and you need the other to get the something you need.
Classically, if you want a thriving business, you need customer, stakeholder support but in order to do that, you need to have the business first. Or that you need capital to build a business but then quite likely the route to getting money for capital is to have a business. When success builds upon success, based on what you can observe, then you have a chicken-and-egg problem on hand when you want to create the success to begin.
Essentially anything that involves some kind of circularity exhibits this kind of problem when it needs to be first put in place. Several strategies have been looked into for this problem. There’s bootstrapping – which generally entails squeezing out some resources from existing pockets/spaces to be able to get the first bit of results which will drive more. And then let it snowball.
There’s the ‘fake-it-till-you-make-it‘ approach, which involves essentially lying to at least a small group of stakeholders to get them onboard in order to bring in the others. I do not recommend this. Finally, you could also take immense amount of risks, exhausting resources, adopting the ‘build-it-and-they-will-come’ approach.
Governments in particular do all three a lot. And it can be wise to learn from them when it comes to business. Sometimes they can be good entrepreneurs.
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