A series of S-shaped curves, maybe?

It dawned on me lately that an S-shaped Sigmoid growth curve may be a series of small S-shaped curves, instead of a single curve. If it is true, it may shed some light on how a complex system, like animals, humans, and civilizations, have evolved.

An S curve emerges as a series of S curves. Credit: Kurzweil, Stanford

In complexity theory, there’s a famous saying that goes, “complexity begets complexity.” And it is generally accepted that complexity increases with evolution. Look at the famed fractal curves! They all comprises a series of a smaller version of the whole. It’s like you can find a tree in any of its leaves.

If we take a step back and ask, “What if a series of growth in spurts, or in step-function, is the secret to real growth and evolution?” If that is really the case, we need to take a long view, as well as a short view. That way, and only that way, you can achieve a series of growth, in place of a single hit.

Another implication is that you need to get ready for the next growth spurts when you’re at an inflection point (the point at which your growth rate reaches the top). Intel’s Andy Grove also pointed out that, as a business, you need to prepare for your next growth opportunity when you’re at a Strategic Inflection Point.

All in all, life goes on. There’s always another opportunity to grow and evolve, even after you’ve achieved a great deal already. That, I believe, is a blessing in disguise. What it tells you is pretty simple: Don’t sit on your laurels. You can always be better off, no matter how good your conditions are right now.

Think about it.


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