Effectuation workshop by Alexandra Rudl & Ralf Allrutz

Alexandra Rudl, from Baden-Württemberg: Connected e.V. and Dr. Ralf Allrutz, from the Informatik-Forum Stuttgart e.V. visited Black Forest Accelerator and gave a productive mentoring session about “Effectuation”.

“Effectuation” is a pragmatic entrepreneurial methodology, that allows defining short term plans to be accomplished, and uses the experience achieved in favor of the following steps. Making the unpredictable future yet controllable through human action.

Mrs. Saras Sarasvathy, under the mentorship of Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon of Carnegie Mellon University, made a cognitive science based study of entrepreneurial expertise using think-aloud protocols. From this empirical basis, she learned that (1) expert entrepreneurs do share a common logic in solving entrepreneurial problems and (2) causal thinking is not bad, but required to form a venture.

This paradigm stands up upon the next five principles, which Alexandra explained to us within her presentation.

Bird in Hand Principle – Start with your means. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity. Start taking action, based on what you have readily available: who you are, what you know, and who you know.

Affordable Loss Principle – Set affordable loss Evaluate opportunities based on whether the downside is acceptable, rather than on the attractiveness of the predicted upside.

Lemonade Principle – Leverage contingencies; Embrace surprises that arise from uncertain situations, remaining flexible rather than tethered to existing goals.

Crazy-Quilt Principle - Form partnerships with people and organizations willing to make a real commitment to jointly creating the future–product, firm, and market–with you. Don’t worry so much about competitive analyses and strategic planning.
(excepts from the Website)

The 2nd part of the session was a dynamic group exercise, in which the Black Forest Accelerator participants where asked to arrange groups consisting of two teams (or single founders). The Teams were asked to fill out the “Effectuation Grid” a tool, developed by Ralf, Alexandra et al. to visualize the Effectuation method and its repetitious circle. While one team filled out the grid while discussing it loudly, the other half of the group was listening and giving feedback afterwards. After 50minutes we took a short break and changed positions afterwards, so that everyone was able to create an Effectuation grid. Alexandra and Ralf advised us on how to fill out the grid properly or challenged us to think into the grid related questions more detailed.

A feedback round where everyone could bring in his or her thoughts and advice regarding the grid and the method round closed the session.

Participants liked that the Grid challenges thinking into more diverse and wider patterns, with questions such as “What am I willing to risk or lose” or “Who am I and what contacts to I have to move my project forward”.

For the organizers of Black Forest Accelerator as well as for all participants it was a great chance to see how teams communicate internally while being observed by s.o. else and even more exciting was to see, what founders are willing to risk and what they are aware of risking.

Overall it was a very valuable and productive workshop, helping to bring the BFA projects and its teams more on track towards a successful execution. We are very thankful to Alexandra and Ralf for sharing their knowledge and providing precious feedback.


As Effectuation should help to realize innovative ideas more rapidly, we asked Alexandra and Ralf about their expectations and idea towards “Innovation”.

Irene for BFA: – Could you tell us what does innovation mean for you, using just three words?

Alexandra: -Well, it’ll be more than three…I would say “From idea to the Market”

Irene for BFA: – When do you think the most innovative ideas come from?

Ralf: – When there is a lack of resources and also when you talk to people, different people.

Irene for BFA: – What can you do to keep an innovative mind?

Alexandra: – Talk to people, different types of people. Listen to different perspectives and points of view and have an open mind.

Irene for BFA: – Where have you found the best and most innovative ideas?

Ralf: – Well it all depends on what you understand for innovation. But certainly the creation of internet and before the invention of the transistor really was an innovation. All newly created, without anything alike existing before and providing a revolutionary social contribution

Irene for BFA: – Thank you very much for your time and support. We really appreciate your contribution to Black Forest Accelerator and its teams. Dankeschön!

Alexandra and Ralf: – You’re welcome!


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