The company’s S-curve

In the business world, understanding the S-curve is like having a roadmap for innovation. This graphical representation explains the life cycle of innovations, products or technologies as they move from inception to maturity.

The S-curve has a profound impact on understanding the need for innovation, guiding organizations through the stages of growth, saturation and even obsolescence. In this post, we’ll delve into the S-curve and explore how it shapes the demand for continuous innovation.

Early adoption: seeds of innovation

The S-curve’s journey begins at the bottom, where innovations are in their infancy. In this phase, the need for innovation is crucial. New ideas and technologies often meet with skepticism and resistance. Companies must innovate to overcome these initial hurdles, demonstrate value and gain a foothold in the market.

Rapid Growth: Climb to Success

When an innovation gains acceptance and proves its value, it enters the rapid growth phase of the S-curve. This is where it gets exciting. Demand is soaring, competition is intensifying and investments are pouring in. Innovation becomes the driving force, with companies striving to outdo each other. It’s a race for market share, and those who innovate effectively can ride the wave of success.

Stagnation: Navigate the plateau

Every wave eventually reaches its peak. The saturation phase of the S-curve comes when the market becomes saturated with similar products or technologies. Growth slows and profit margins shrink. This is a critical time where the need for innovation is shifting. To stay ahead, companies must now find new ways to differentiate themselves and sustain growth.

Decline or Obsolescence: The Consequences of Stagnation

Without further innovation, the innovation may enter a decline phase. Competing technologies or products may render it obsolete. This decline is a stark reminder of the consequences of stagnation. Companies that do not innovate risk losing relevance and market position.

Jump to a new S-curve: The innovation cycle

To avoid decline, organizations must be prepared to move to a new S-curve. It is often about introducing disruptive innovations that can redefine entire industries. These innovations breathe new life into an organization and create the conditions for a new growth cycle.

The imperative of continuous innovation

Innovation is not a one-time event; it is a continuous process. The S-curve provides a visual explanation of this journey, illustrating the stages of innovation from inception to potential decline. Understanding the S-curve is critical for organizations that want to thrive in an innovative and competitive landscape.


In summary, the S-curve underscores the undeniable need for relentless innovation. It’s not just a choice; it is the lifeline that propels businesses forward, ensuring they remain relevant and resilient in an ever-changing world.

So if you’re in the innovation business, remember the S-curve – it’s your guide to when there is need for disruptive innovation and when change becomes more important than efficiency.