• David Stephenson

S-Curve Dilemma

To be efficient or to be creative? Where is my company’s focus? Can we achieve both?

It seems life cycles of products, services, companies have all got shorter. The velocity of change is increasing. Industries merge or have fuzzier edges. The classic S-curve that shows the life of a product or industry is now shorter. Companies, products, CEO’s come and go at an alarming rate.

The S-curve concept shows the general life of a product/service/industry over time. At inception, the product/service benefits from a creative or innovative culture. Then as the product/service/industry matures it requires and benefits from an entirely different culture, which focuses more on execution and efficiency.

This is a dilemma many businesses face, for example when scaling up at the early part of the curve. The culture that made them successful at the start is not necessarily what will enable them to sustain or maximise profits, or to expand.

The dilemma also happens later on at the end of the life cycle of the product when the business once again needs an innovative culture to create the next “new thing” otherwise they will ride the S-curve down into death-valley and oblivion (as many business do).

Key questions?

  • Can we diversify enough to survive the death/demise of one product/service/industry?

  • Can we make efficient and scale-up what we have created?

  • How can we nurture our creativity and innovation, whilst remaining efficient?

  • If we need to transform or even reinvent ourselves, how can we create escape velocity from our status quo?

This challenge is often why operating models need to be adapted, or totally redesigned at key stages in the evolution of a business. These are all key questions we help clients tackle when redesigning and transforming their businesses.

David Stephenson is a Consulting Partner at Outvie and an expert in business and organisational change

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