Jumping the S-curve

Business Life cycle

All companies go through the various phases of the business life cycle. During the Growth phase, establishing a Vision involves plotting a future direction that is linear; i.e., straight-line forecasting works quite well. But it’s a totally different picture as your business enters the Maturity and Decline phases. One option is to let it decline, shut it down, and close the doors.

If you want to renew your business, then the visioning approach requires “Jumping to a new S-curve”. But what does the new S-curve look like? What are the market, social, technological, and political signals that point to the new curve that is emerging? How does one confidently predict what an uncertain future will look like?

The Industry Life Cycle

S-curves can also show the evolution in mining over several generations. “Jumping to a new S-curve” is depicted as a yellow bubble.

Deploying effective mining strategies require a closer look at what’s inside the “yellow bubble”.

Academic and pragmatic rethinking has led to the realization there are 3 systems that comprise the real world: Order, Chaos, and Complex.


In the ORDER system, the work environment is stable, repeatable, relatively fixed due to physical constraints, as well as constraints imposed by Humans such as policies, regulations, standards, and rules. We can apply Reductionism to sequentially take things apart, fix each component, and put them all back together. The whole is equal to the sum of its parts.
Because Cause & Effect linear relationships exist, we can predict the Future with some probabilistic level of confidence. The desired property of the Order system is STABILITY.

But there are 2 other systems that are constantly changing.
In the Chaotic system, everything is totally random, no rhyme nor reason, no logic exists.
The Complex systems looks chaotic with its unpredictability, uncertainty, and confusion. But due to natural science constraints underlying patterns often exist which provide a semblance of hidden order. AGILITY is necessary to respond quickly to unforeseen changes.

It should come to no surprise to anyone that Complexity is expanding dramatically. Every new connection a human makes increases complexity. Besides other humans, connections include system agents such as non-human objects, events, ideas – anything that might impact or influence a decision made by the person. Now add smart devices interacting with machines through algorithms.  No one can predict how the increase in complexity will influence agent behaviour change, create new agents, and enable unanticipated good and bad consequences to emerge.  A reductionistic approach won’t work in the complex system. We must view the system holistically. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Stability + Agility

Stability is the highly desired property of the Order system. But it’s not enough to achieve long-term sustainability. Agility is necessary to deal with the disruption of the Chaotic system and the uncertainty of the Complex system. Stability is associated with Robustness and Agility with Resilience. So our overarching mining strategy is to strengthen robustness and build resilience.