Management researchers often observe a pattern when a unit, such as a law department, tries something new. Initial excitement and improvement gives way to declining effectiveness as reality and resistance intrude. As the department works out the kinks – say with a new matter management system or a new form of evaluation – the new management initiative gains strength and improves even above the first flush of success. Eventually the rate of improvement shrinks and stops, before rigidity, atrophy and decline set in.
A sigmoid curve – an S-shaped curve laid on its side like a roller coaster – illustrates from the left the small peak at the start, the sag, the higher gradual peak, and ultimate degradation. Many practices pass through the sigmoid phases.