How it works ?
The sigmoid curve is really about the nature of change in general. The s-curve is often used to illustrate how change affects technology or product life cycles, but you can also apply it to any system where we are interested in performance over time, including our own personal performance or career progression.
According to Charles Handy’s Sigmoid curve, things start slow in the beginning. For a while it may even seem like we made a bad decision or started down the wrong path. Then at point A, things start to take off. From point A to point “Plateau” is a period of accelerating growth and performance. At point “Plateau”, we begin to experience the asymptotic limits to growth. By point C, we experience the pain of inevitable decline. If we wait until point C or even the “Plateau” area to realize that what we are doing will no longer work, we face tremendous hardship and competitive peril.
But here is the paradox of change. The paradox is that at the point where we need to be changing and switching to a new technology, a new career or a new routine that will take us to the next level, all the messages from our environment are sending us the exact opposite message. In a nutshell, there is no problem in sight!
Leaders have to sense the need for the second curve, but also to get others to share our understanding of the need for change and to develop a sense of urgency for a radically different future when people still want to stay in the success and comfort of the present.
The paradox of success that “what got you where you are won’t keep you where you are”, is a hard lesson to learn. Curvilinear logic means starting life over again, something that gets harder as one gets older. Therefore, it is often better, in organizations, to entrust the curvilinear thinking to the next generation. It can see more clearly where the first curve is heading and what the next curve might look like. It is the job of the elders to give that group of people permission to be different, and then, when the next curve is established, to get out of the way. Big changes are always the only way out from the decline phase of the current curve.
Leaders must be able to successfully lead themselves through changes and overcome its paradox if they want to have any hope of leading others through change.
As a candidate who has already more than five years experience and who is getting a fresh start in a new company, you need to constantly challenge yourself even though your current position seems to be the perfect fit. As Richard Branson said: “The next opportunity is always in view”. Think ahead in terms of opportunities and do not settle to where you are today. Thus, the best time to look for a new challenge is when you are at the top of your career. At this stage, you have a tremendous leverage to negotiate your future salary and get more in return than someone who is unemployed.