One of the concepts which Charles Handy writes about in The Empty Raincoat is the ‘s’ curve. Here’s an example of one -
We start something new, it develops and grows, then the problems and limitations start to appear so the growth flattens out, and in the final stage, decline sets in.
It’s one of the paradoxes of success that the things and the ways which got you where you are, are seldom the things that keep you there.
In other words, when things are going well, we shouldn’t become complacent thinking that we’ve got it all sussed. If we want to keep growing (and if we don’t we’ll start to shrink or decline) then we have to change what we’re doing now. The future will be different from both the past and the present.
An example of this from medical practice would be the treatment of an individual with a chronic illness. The doctor might find some therapies which are helpful eg some particular drugs which work for this patient, but, as time passes, those therapies won’t be so helpful any more.
I find the idea of “proven” or “unproven” treatments to be very unhelpful. Not only because no treatment will work for every patient, so a treatment is only “proven” for that person when we see how things turn out for them, but that because everyone is always changing, what works now, what is “proven” now, will stop working, or at least stop working so well, as time passes.
If we are to continue to improve and to grow we need to understand the reality of this ‘s-curve’ and as
it’s easy to explain things looking backwards, we think we can then predict them forwards