Sigmoid Curve

Have you ever wondered when is the right time to launch something new? When is it right to change tracks? When is it a good time to take a leap of faith into an unknown future? Should you not wait till you reap the rewards of the efforts you have put in?

If these questions have bothered you endlessly, a little tool called the “Sigmoid Curve” might help. I owe this one to Charles Handy, a wise old British economist and author, who wrote about it in his book the Age of Paradox. (See this article for an interesting perspective. And click PDF for a one-page note on the concept.)

According to Handy, the best time to start a new “curve” is before you reach the peak of your existing one ! That way, you will be starting something new when you still have the resources, and the spirit, to take it to new heights. In contrast, most people think of doing something new only when they have reached the bottom of what they are presently involved in.

Though, I must also point out that Handy’s recommendation is easier said than done. There are several difficulties that come up in its implementation. For one, it is very difficult to determine where one is on the sigmoid curve. Another big problem is that it is against conventional thinking, and you are most likely going to face resistance from your peers and those around you, making it difficult for you to stick to your plan. I mean, why would any sane person want to give it all up when the peak is yet to be reached ?! But that’s precisely what the model suggests.

(If you think about it, that’s kinda like what Sting did when he broke from The Police at the peak of their career. Sting once said in an interview that he left Police when they were touring all over, and were on the top of the charts for several weeks in a row. What else was there to achieve?!)

Why am I writing all this? Because my life till date has been kinda like a lot of sigmoid curves ! I have always believed in constantly learning…evolving…growing… And this concept has helped. In all honesty, it was more good fortune than well-planned strategy that led me to where I am now. But this concept has helped.

If this write up helps you in even a small way, it would have achieved its purpose.

So, go ahead. Carpe Diem. And, may the force be with you !

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  1. I read both the article and the PDF document you suggested.a close friend had told me about the concept of the sigmoid curve years back in the context of upgrading skills to prepare for survival in the face of the constantly changing landscape of consciously practise this advice calls for vision.that vision can be hard to have,depending on the circumstances.there is a school of thought among organisations that it is critical to have disruptive innovation to sustain competitive edge.yet another pithy saying “if it aint broken dont fix it” represented the thinking of many other an individual level riding the curve could be due to anticipated problems or proactive change with a dose of adventurism thrown in..i should admit that the good moves i made in my life were realised only in hindsight so those can be attributed only to providence rather than sage foresight.

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