One of the reasons why I like the S curve model so much is that it often very closely maps against reality. The best example is the high jump. This clearly has nothing to do with HR but if you can see how valid the model is here, you are more perhaps more likely to accept its validity for HR as well.
So you can see how the heights achieved in the high jump have increased through a series of S curves, consisting of incremental improvements leading to transformational breakthroughs in which performance increased very quickly before settling down into incremental improvement and finally being overtaken by a new S curve.
Each of the breakthrough changes in performance were the result of someone successfully introducing a new technique. The ongoing, incremental improvements that have followed on from each breakthrough have been down to ongoing improvements using this same technique or early experimentation with a new technique before it has become common practice at which point the next transformational breakthrough is seen.
The first break- through came in 1912 with the development of the Western Roll that quickly replaced the existing Scissors approach. The next breakthrough followed the introduction of the Straddle in 1956. The most recent change came in 1968 when Dick Fosbury created the Fosbury Flop, jumping backwards over the bar.
Fosbury’s breakthrough was partly about better use of technology, in this case, laying foam under the bar, so that he could jump over backwards without sustaining a serious injury. But it also relied on improvements in human capability – Fosbury was a former gymnast who introduced a set of new ability to the sport.
We’re seeing a very similar thing going on within HR in that our new techniques supporting the new S curve are also being enabled by technology, and new capabilities too. More on each of these later.