Weekend innovation tip: You’re unlikely to see the future if you’re standing in the mainstream

Innovation and strategic advantage hinge on the ability to anticipate trends and identify the next big thing. You won’t find the next big thing in the mainstream. You need to go to the edge, on the fringe.

Inspiration for new ideas doesn’t come from boardroom meetings, it comes from actively seeking ideas from other industries like design, architecture, pop culture, music and art. You need to go out and do some trend hunting!

When trend hunting in the fringe you need to keep an open mind and a willingness to explore random innovation that might not result in anything worthwhile.

Here then are a few ways to spot new ideas before anyone else:

  • Travel. There’s no doubt that traveling opens your eyes to new things, connecting ideas from other cultures is a weapon innovators wield.
  • Read a lot of everything. Don’t just read what you like, read stuff you wouldn’t normally read. If you read business magazines, read mystery novels. If you read technology books, read political books. Read for breadth and look for connections.
  • Share ideas with others. We’ve all got ideas, we stand a better chance of acting on them if we tell our friends, colleagues and family members about them.
  • Talk to very strange people. Talking to the same usual suspects (friends, coworkers, family) you run the risk of getting caught in the echo chamber. Talk to people whom you have nothing in common with, you’ll always find something interesting.
  • Watch people. Watch your customers. Become them. Obsesses about them.