One of my favourite all time HR thinkers is Charles Handy. I almost met him at the HR Most Influential Awards a couple of years ago but I got distracted in the queue and by the time I returned my attention he'd walked away. Anyway, one of Handy's core models is the S-shaped or sigmoid curve which describes the typical lifecycle of products, companies, economies, jobs and people.
The curve shows how progress starts slowly, picks up over time and increases more rapidly as positive feedback loops take effect. Eventually, however, the curve plateaus out and a new state of temporary equilibrium emerges as negative feedback takes control. Finally, this leads to decline and death. However, for products and for jobs at least, there will often be a second curve.
Handy explains that the increasing pace of change means that these new curves are proliferating and that their life cycles are being completed ever more quickly. This is leading to increasing dissonance and confusion. Handy believes the paradox of change is that the movement from one curve to the next needs to take place when there is the least apparent need for it. This is at the inflection point in the middle of the S. If people wait until they need to change (at the top of the S), resources and energy will have already been depleted. At this point, they have momentum for change but little capability to achieve it.
Unfortunately, this is where we are today. My advice column on this site is therefore provided to help HR practitioners and others responsible for leading talent and developing organisations understand how our HR practices need to change in the new S curve and to develop the capabilities to help make the leap between the curves.