Have you hear of the Sigmoid Curve? Me neither until the other week and now it is looming over me like a malevolent S.
When I first heard of the Sigmoid curve, I assumed it to be some sort of bastard half-marriage between the father of psychology and the mother of all painful bottoms, but it is nothing to do with that. For those that still enjoy the blissful ignorance I once did, I will share the wisdom I have learned – and with it the pain.
The Sigmoid Curve is a represented by a simple wavy line on a graph. The vertical axis represents growth and the horizontal one time and the trajectory demonstrates the inevitable progression as either a person or an organisation develops.
It looks like this:
As you can see, we start off going a little downhill as we are learning a new job or task, but then over time, we get the hang of it and start to improve. We kick some goals and are feeling good. Our development is all we can see for a while and everything feels like an achievement.
Then, inevitably, we peak and start to plateau before the inevitable decline on the other side.
The trick with the curve is to get in ahead of the peak and begin a new phase of development. This will mean for a time that you will start dropping in performance for a while, because you are learning new stuff, but then you will start to kick goals again, like this:
That shady bit is the tricky bit, but if you can start the second curve before you plateau ot start to decline, the theory is that you will successfully ride the wave to success once more. The smart person – or organisation – spots the plateau and reinvests before it it too late, recognising that a short halt to progress will pay dividends down the track.
I know where I am on the curve and it is not good. The problem is the cheerful guy who explained all this to us only recommended jumping off one curve before it was too late, he did not have any advice for someone who may have been staring glumly at her dot right on the downward arrow’s head.
Thanks, Mr Sigmoid for making my day. I am glad you have a crappy name. Now excuse me, I have some quiet decaying to do in the corner.