The Sigmoid Curve
What is the Sigmoid Curve?
The Sigmoid Curve is a concept discussed by Charles Handy in his book, The Age of Paradox.
The success curve rises and falls through our lives, and from a business point of view, it dips as we learn, test, falter, and experiment; rises as we prosper; then once again dips as it comes to its end.
The key, according to Handy, is keep the curve going by transforming “to a new [one] before the current one is too far in decline”.
As the curve declines and motivation and resources start to deplete, it can be harder to transform to a new curve. The key therefore lies in laying the formation for a new curve while the current one is still trending upwards; before the dip begins. Once the current curve begins approaching its peak, preparation for the new curve should begin, in order to execute a planned exit and transition.
Seth Godin’s The Dip
Seth Godin’s book The Dip touches on the highs and lows of the Sigmoid Curve. He lays out the typical process of a new business or venture; a process you’re probably familiar with:
A new idea (or even a hobby) becomes a fixation
You’ve got an idea and you’re raring to get started
A new business is daunting but also really exciting
You learn and experiment
Your new venture starts to get harder and motivation dwindles
You fall into The Dip
At some point or another, you hit a low point; Seth Godin calls this The Dip.
And then the questions start…
Is this worth it?
Will it get better?
How do I get out of this dip?
Or should I just quit now?
The Dip helps you determine whether you’re facing a temporary set back (and let’s face it, which business owner has never experienced that?) or you’re truly stuck, and as a result, whether you should persist to get out of that dip, or quit so “you can be number one at something else”.
The Lessons of the Sigmoid Curve
Know when to quit and when to keep going
Know the barriers you need to overcome
Know how to escape the dead end
Reinvention and adaptation are key to growth and success
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