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Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs And The S-Curve

Throughout history, humans have realized that their capacity to operate in their current environment is generally limited. Individually, life was too difficult; in groups, life was bearable.

Humans used ‘tools’ from early times, in order to improve their quality of life and the efficiency with which they carried out certain tasks. Tools that protected them, enabled them to ward off danger and even control other humans.

Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was relevant even to the first humans, although they spent much of their time, dealing with aspects on the bottom portion of the hierarchy:

Physiological needs:        food, water, warmth, rest

Safety needs:                  security, safety


Depending on their environment, they had to deal with and solve specific problems on a shoestring, under duress and all this, with the meagre means available:

  • How to kill an animal for food without getting killed yourself: Trap animal, lapidate animal, kill animal; use knife, made out of bone or flint; Bow and Arrow; Spear made out of wood and stone, then wood and metal tip
  • How to get across water from one piece of dry land to another: the dead branch or log, then the boat
  • Where to seek shelter to protect oneself from the elements and dangerous predators: the cave, then the hut, the fortified village
  • How to capture fire produced from lightening; how to store those embers safely for later use; then how to produce fire at will
  • How to cut wood to build a boat, a shelter, or a fortification: use flint, sharp rock, then metal
  • How to protect their body from the elements, using natural materials to cover their body: weaving textiles, killing animals for food, their skin for clothes, their bones for cutting tools, and making combs to groom hair.
  • How to hunt animals, then how to domesticate animals
  • How to gather berries, plants, fruit and vegetables.
  • How to harvest grains and grow fruit and vegetables in a chosen place
  • How to protect oneself from other humans, how to wage war on other tribes often to survive due to lack of food and then simply to conquer and prosper

Discoveries Bring About Leaps…

Every discovery brings with it advantages and disadvantages. Some of these allowed the human race to make a giant leap in terms of comfort, survival, health, increased independence from other human beings, efficiency, travel, transport of goods, productivity, war and long(ish)-lasting peace:

Fire, the wheel, metal smelting, pottery, arms, domestication of animals, arable farming, irrigation, water pumps, paper, written language, the compass, the map, astronomy, discovery that the earth turns around the sun, vehicles to transport goods, the globe, more aerodynamic wind sails, the steam engine, the discovery of electricity, the diesel engine, the airplane, the splitting of the atom, the electric motor, the motorcar, penicillin, the transistor, the telephone, the radio, radar, jet propulsion, nuclear technology, the first computer, organ transplants, the microchip, miniaturization, the PC, robotics, the internet, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, virtual reality, wifi, the smartphone, DNA sequencing, autonomous vehicles, 3D-printing, blockchain

Each of the above, in its own right, has made a great impact on society as a whole, but not necessarily over night.

The S-Curve

They have all gone through S-curve:

Wacky wild idea => trial and error => disbelief at the possibility of success => proof of concept => slow early adoption => growth => frenzy to get a piece of the action => scaling=> maturity => and sometimes decline

Some of these wacky wild ideas can meet huge opposition, generally out of fear, insecurity or simply ignorance. Take the Wright Brothers and their journey of discovery from wild idea to the first ever manned flight in the Kitty Hawk, on December 17, 1903 in North Carolina. Neither Wilbur nor Orville had a diploma in Engineering. They were ridiculed by other ‘more learned‘ aviation pioneers of that period and repeatedly rejected by the US Army when the Wright Brothers tried to promote an improved version of their aeroplane.

All truths pass through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

I’d invite you to check out the definitions of different types of S-curves that illustrate the product life cycle, growth and adoption and decline, as described by Future Business Tech.


The S-Curve Pattern of Innovation: A Full Analysis. (n.d.). https://www.futurebusinesstech.com/blog/the-s-curve-pattern-of-innovation-a-full-analysis

Warwick, M. (2021, January 23). The true (and surprising) story of the Wright Brothers. Mal Warwick on Books. https://malwarwickonbooks.com/wright-brothers/

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