March 27, 2021 – S-Curve your career

S-Curve yourself

To future proof your career – I believe you need to treat the task of growing you career in the same way that companies innovate. In the business world, you’ll often hear about companies focusing on innovation and one way they describe¬†this is by using the S-Curve idea.

Imagine the letter S like the one in the image below.

From newsletter – SATURDAY 27th March 2021

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Drawing showing S-Curve
Drawing showing S-Curve

The idea is that a company comes up with an idea, a product or a service of some sort. It invests resources, people, time and costs to see if the idea floats. This is represented by the downward arrow at the bottom of the S.

Energy and attention is spent to test, learn and grow.

As they gain traction, customers, investment or sales, they start to ascend the S. It becomes a product line, service, or company offering. They gain more traction and grow. This period could be months, or weeks, or years.

At some point though, the market for that product or service saturates. The competition moves in or customer demand shifts, or people just move on to a new product or service. This is represented at the top of the S where demand drops. This is the same for our skills and abilities at work – others catch up, our skills become commoditised.

For some companies this is the end of their business. For others, it’s just one product stream that ends or declines (which might be their most profitable). Some companies can struggle on for years in a downward market, some are wiped out quickly.

The best companies invest during the boom time though – looking for that next product, service or business that will take off and sustain another S growth.

Many companies are experimenting, testing and trialling new ideas constantly. Some just tweak existing products to create more diversity in features or functions, some create new platforms and for some it could be an entire new business model or product.

There is no right or wrong way to innovate and find that next S, you just have to be doing it. At some point, your market may disappear – what next? It might be too late to innovate and find a new product or service at this point.

What’s this got to do with you and your career? A few things:

  • Are your current skills in decline as the market shifts and the competition increases?
  • Are you adding new skills and experiences to remain relevant for the next tech, trends, markets or jobs?

This might be coding skills, new tech, better communication skills or shifting to a whole new industry.

I believe the S-Curve is an interesting way to look at our career. It may help to spur us on to learn new skills, or look for new markets to share our experience in. At some point, unless we keep learning, we’ll face stiff competition as our skills may be no longer in demand.

Only you will know what skills, experience, industries and strengths resonate with you, but if we’re serious about our careers, it pays to keep innovating and learning.

Should you be finding your next experiment and innovation to create a new S-curve for your own career?

I think so.