S-Curves for Trend Forecasting

If you want to slow growth, pick any limiting factor and apply pressure. One will do.

Sometimes a trend continues growing exponentially for a long time before bumping up against a limiting factor. The thing to remember about an S-curve is that if you plot it on a log scale the first half of the curve looks like a straight line all the way backward. That's because it's exponential growth at the beginning, so every new observation dwarfs all those that came before. Sometimes we spend a lot of time in exponential growth phase and people write art... (read more)

33y

Agree, this misconception (and seeing it everywhere) is one of the things that
made me wrote the article (particularly the part about "exponentional growth vs.
s-curves).
The other side of it is when people think that trends are made of a single
s-curve, and think that when growth is slowing down, that means that the trend
is done forever, rather than simply the start of another s-curve when the
constraint is defeated.

S-Curves for Trend Forecasting

I think you'll always be working in S-curves if you're in a finite system. The trick is to be able to detect the rate-limiting factor. That's the factor that marks the inflection point between exponential growth and the beginning of the slowdown. For classic examples like bacterial growth that might be nutrients, space, elimination of waste, etc.

The hard part is determining whether you've considered all the rate-limiting factors involved. Going back to bacterial growth, if you think food is the rate-limiting factor and you predict y... (read more)

13y

Agree, recognizing constraints before they limit you is key if you're looking to
create growth (or alternatively, adding multiple constraints if you're looking
to slow growth).

Yes, I think it's an excellent article, especially the observation about constraints. If we can correctly identify which elements are constraining a system we have a path to return to exponential growth.

Still, we'll see articles lamenting that "despite how we've overcome Constraint X, growth hasn't returned." The world is multi-causal/multi-factoral, though. More than one factor can constrain growth. It is often an engineering problem, and focusing on the system as driven by rationally understandable forces is important. ... (read more)