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The Sigmoid Curve: A Model for Constant Business Growth and Innovation

Posted by Henry Cheang | October 31, 2014 7:00 AM

Everything in life is complex. But that’s not to say that there aren’t simple ways to explain or mathematically represent all natural phenomena. One such explanatory construct is the sigmoid curve, and it is a very useful way to explain all the changes that all human endeavours experience.

Sigmoid_Curve.png

What is the sigmoid curve?

The most basic sigmoid curve looks like this:

Activity vs. Time

In its simplest form, the sigmoid is a representation of time (on the horizontal axis) and activity (on the vertical axis). The wonder of this curve is that it really describes most phenomena, regardless of type. Basically:

  1.        There’s an initial period where the context for a phenomenon develops.
  2.        The phenomenon is then introduced to the world.
  3.        The phenomenon experiences sharp growth
  4.        It hits a maturity phase where growth slows, and then stops.
  5.        The phenomenon then declines and peters out.

Most things in human experience go through these phases. On a more epic scale, we see that empires, nations, and movements can all be characterized by the sigmoid curve. On the more mundane side of things, we see that businesses and technology go through this as well. It’s basically inevitable.

What are the practical implications of the curve?

The point here is that nothing persists forever. This is true regardless of whether a phenomenon is good, bad, or otherwise. On a practical level, that means that we need to take a good, hard look at the status of the activities that sustain us. Notably, we have to evaluate where both our business(es) and technology(/ies) lie on the curve. It would be obvious to all (except the most painfully deluded) when a company is in decline. This would typically be a crisis point, where the organization is in danger of shuttering at any moment.

We obviously don’t want to be there, and we should be avoiding that point at any cost. It would be a very good thing to identify the point of maturity of a phenomenon – which, for our purposes, would be a business’s/technology’s growth. The problem is, unfortunately, that there’s no easy way to determine the point between peaking and slipping into the maturity phase. So what to do?

The answer is pretty simple, actually – you seek out and launch your next path to success while you’re still basking in the glow of the present moment’s achievement. Basically, you’re adding a second sigmoid onto your first, like so:

Success vs. Time

You start to pave the ground for the next undertaking at point A. That way, all the uncertainty, doubt, and experimentation happens against the backdrop of success to act as your cushion for security. You won’t have (as much) anxiety dealing with the unknowns because your survival isn’t dependent on it. And you repeat the process, over and over again. That way, when one source of success declines and peters out, you’ll be thriving on something else. This really is the only path to sustained achievement. To ignore it and simply hope that you’re the one exception to the sigmoid curve is a bad idea.

Practical issues

Now, the above is easier said than done, and for (at least) three reasons. These would be:

  1. Very few people are willing to believe that, once attained, success won’t last. They simply aren’t open to the possibility that there will be definite ends to all things, including good things. The history of (essentially) everything shows that this isn’t the case. Everything rises, and everything falls. It’s inevitable…
  2. People tend to focus on all the positives of good times when they’re in the heat of the moment rather than dispassionately evaluate everything – especially weaknesses and potential flaws.  
  3. People worry that, having attained success once, they’ll never be as successful ever again. They don’t give themselves the space to try new things.

It should be noted that all of these elements can be changed and overcome. The principle is simple: It only takes education (of mindsets) to align everyone. Practically, however, it’s much more difficult: It takes no small amount of bravery to admit that current achievements are finite and that current levels of success can only sustained by finding other paths to it.

That said, acknowledging this and acting on it will be much less painful than to try and turn things around when you’re at a crisis point (Point B above). Then, you’ll need both shrewdness and luck. Striking out on new paths when you’re at Point A really only requires shrewdness. That’s better, wouldn’t you say?

Ultimately, having both the courage and the vision to take risks on new undertakings while you’re in your prime is the only real way to sustain high levels of success. This is something for which you need to convince everyone: Superiors, peers, and subordinates.

How this ties into TEM and Cimpl

The other part of this achievement stems from the fact that we’re always launching into that second sigmoid – we don’t stay idle even as we surpass our wildest initial objectives. This really is at the heart of our upcoming Vision Webinar. Because our founder and president, Christopher Thierry, isn’t content to simply ride out our current peak, he’s blazing a path through the next wave of the telecom expense management industry. Our current method obviously works very well – how else would we have gotten so many devoted and loyal customers otherwise? But that’s just it – we’re at the peak, Point A. So, now is the time to develop new things. To find that next sigmoid.If you’ve been reading our blogs or know our company, you know that Cimpl is Canada’s leader in IT and telecom expense management. We got here by having the best people work tirelessly on refining services to all our customers and by giving back to our community.

The result of all this is that Mr. Thierry developed a completely new framework for managing all technology assets and has new strategic visions of how to optimise technology resource use and drive revenues for the TEM industry along with all other industries. It’s the course we’ve charted to our next successes, and we invite you al to take part in it! In the weeks leading up to Mr. Thierry’s Vision Webinar, we’ll be introducing elements of his thinking as teasers. Hope to see you all there at the webinar!  

What is Telecom Expense Management?

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Topics: Telecom Expense Management, Work Smarter, Tips, Best Practices, tem, Software, Business Growth, Success

Written by Henry Cheang

Henry has a lifelong passion for science and technology. This enthusiasm is put to good use in a cutting-edge software company like Cimpl. As product marketer, Henry researches market and user needs to develop user and buyer personas, contributes to product design, and helps coordinate product messaging. Henry also writes nearly the entirety of all documentation for Cimpl’s many successful platforms. In his spare time, Henry devotes much energy to family, friends, and martial arts. Henry recently completed his Master’s in Business and Administration from Concordia University, where he specialized in the study of marketing, organizational behavior, and corporate governance. He has authored academic papers on the latter two subjects; these papers form part of his bibliography of over 20 professional research publications.

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