Jump the S-Curve

Where are you?

Your company will go through the various phases of the business life cycle. During the Growth phase, establishing a Vision involves plotting a future direction that is linear; i.e., straight-line forecasting works quite well. But it’s a totally different picture as your business enters the Maturity and Decline phases. One option is to let it decline, shut it down, and close the doors.

Business Life cycle

If you want to renew your business, then the visioning approach requires “Jumping to a new S-curve”. But what does the new S-curve look like? What are the market, social, technological, and political signals that point to the new curve that is emerging? How does one confidently predict what an uncertain future will look like?

The Industry Life Cycle

To compound matters, you must also be aware that your Industry is also going through a natural life cycle. And then there are S-curves that encompass the entire business spectrum as shown in the Cognitive Edge diagram below:

Click to enlarge

“Jumping to a new S-curve” is depicted as a yellow bubble. We concur that we are currently seeing a decline in the Systems Thinking paradigm. Information Technology (IT) clearly has been the big driver during the past 3 decades. Advances in the cognitive sciences have led to the emergence of the next curve that is more suited to handling non-linear complex situations. The paradigm shift is moving away from controlling an information system to situating a network. Globalization is a prime example. Thomas Friedman in his international bestselling book The World is Flat defines 10 flatteners since 1989; all are in the yellow bubble signifying the decline of Systems Thinking and rise of Networks.

In Safety, we are seeing the paradigm shift manifested as movement towards a Values-based safety culture.

Safety Cultures

Progressive-thinking organizations are abandoning efforts to control worker behaviour through rule compliance. They are letting go and trusting employees to think based on safety values and principles. In the fast pace, turbulent work environment workers face today, the new paradigm makes sense.

As your older employees retire and take their tacit knowledge with them, what vision of safety do you wish to create for your Gen X & Y “wet behind the ears” workforce? We suggest a proactive approach to safety management recommended by Professor Erik Hollnagel. He argues that safety management must look ahead and not only try to avoid things going wrong, but also try to ensure that they go right.

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