The other week, my wife and I were watching Sunday Morning on CBS and I was interested to see their segment on the restaurant Eleven Madison Park. I know Eleven Madison Park through my research on Michelin Star restaurants in NYC, though I have had clients around the corner from it and walked by it countless times.
You can watch the segment at the CBS News site here - https://www.cbsnews.com/news/re-creating-eleven-madison-park-the-worlds-best-restaurant/ - but I will summarize my key take-away (related to business). In summary in Spring 2017 Eleven Madison Park reached the top, not only did they have the amazing three Michelin Stars, but they were named the best restaurant in the world. With title in hand, they decided to not rest on their laurels or get complacent (see this 2016 article on Per Se - https://ny.eater.com/2016/1/28/10858508/thomas-keller-per-se-response), they decided it was time to tear everything out and start over. If you are a foodie, or are just interested in learning why the top restaurant in the world would do this, do yourself a favor and watch the segment, it is well worth it. For those of you who are interested in growth, strategy, and transformational change, keep reading.
Sitting there that Sunday morning (and now several more times of re-watching the segment) all I could think about is Charles Handy’s Sigmoid Curve from “The Age of Paradox” and it got me excited (yes I can be geeky about these type of things). Seeing a top restaurant strive for transformational growth at the right point of their Sigmoid Curve excited me. Why, because it’s more common for restaurants reaching a pinnacle of success to maintain their position and offering not reinvent itself. This is no different than most businesses (organizations, or people) that reach a level of success. Essentially, too many companies and or restaurants wait too long to start their Second Curve because there are focused on the achievement and believing to stay there they must remain doing what got them there. Let’s dig into the concepts.
The Sigmoid Curve (S-Curve)
The Sigmoid Curve is a great way to look at the lifecycle of an organization, product or industry, with the Inception phase being where we spend our resources to create a product/business (a restaurant in this example). After our investment (the down portion) we start seeing some initial success explode into the Growth Phase (sometimes I call it Hyper Growth – the hockey-stick portion of growth), once our growth starts to slow we enter the Maturity Phase, and then inevitably into the Decline stage. The Sigmoid Curve has strong parallels to the Technology Adoption Lifecycle as defined by Everett Rogers in Diffusions of Innovation and brought back to the mainstream by Geoffrey Moore in Crossing the Chasm (the chasm would be from Inception to Growth).
The Second Curve (Transformational Growth)
Handy noticed that most companies/people would wait until the decline stage was already well on its way to start their Second Curve (growth into the next paradigm). This was the wrong time. These companies have already lost momentum and worse yet, in decline there is less money to invest in the next curve. The optimal time Handy found would be while you were still in the growth phase, around 75%-80% into this phase. Here you still have momentum and you are able to invest in creating your second growth curves with the profits from the growth phase, before they start going away in Maturity and Decline.
Back to Eleven Madison Park – this is exactly what they are doing. They are still in the growth phase (conceptually) and are investing in creating the restaurant that will drive their Second Curve before the Maturity and Decline phases make them entering those phases less likely. They are optimizing their kitchen to be more efficient and are creating a whole new dining experience that I expect will keep them on top for another decade. Hopefully they will be wise enough to know when to start their Third Curve and if history is any indication of this they likely will when the time is right.
How does this relate to your business or product? Do you know where you are in your S-Curve? When do you start working on creating your Second Curve? If you are like most companies or product managers, you probably don’t know where you are in your S-Curve. As such, you wait until the Decline Phase to start working on your Second Curve. This is the reality but also result of solving a problem that didn’t’ exist until you entered into the Decline Phase.
We help companies know where they are in their S-Curve and discover and execute on their Second Curves by helping them become more focused on their customers and markets. Perhaps a Market Opportunity Optimization/MO2 (http://www.inventisstrategies.com/mo2.html) research project can help you better know and understand your market, including where you are on the S-Curve and identify ideas for your Second Curve.
Our Growth Strategy Action Workshop (http://www.inventisstrategies.com/gsaw.html) can help your team identify the growth opportunities that make the most sense for you, whether it is continuing the Growth Phase or starting the transition to your Second Curve.
If you are interested in learning more about our MO2 or Growth Strategy Action Workshop, or just want to talk about The Sigmoid Curve or fine dining in NYC, free to e-mail me at email@example.com. I always enjoy a good conversation on growth strategy or NYC restaurants.
Insights into building great products and choosing the right markets to grow.