This number twelve of a series of weekly posts where I will answer a few common questions about innovation. Please feel free to add your own response. Also, if you have any questions you think we should discuss, let me know.
This is one of those not so obvious questions.
First of all, if you are doing trendspotting because you want to stay ahead of competitors, you have it all wrong. This is a reactive response. Sure, if you do it right (and most of the time you won’t be right), you’ll stay ahead of competitors. But that shouldn’t be your main motivation.
Your main motivation for “doing trendspotting” is to anticipate where change is coming from. And if change is coming, that means your customers will also change. Their likes and dislikes will change.
Another important point to consider, is that there are plenty of websites that do trendspotting. Everyone has access to this information. For free. And if everyone, including your competitors, has access to this information for free, why would you rely on this information to come to the same conclusions?
An article on the Mexican version of Fortune Magazine recently called trendspotting a rising career choice. Though I somewhat agree with it, it’s been very obvious for those us of us in the innovation space, I don’t think anyone can start doing it right away. People who are great at trendspotting are usually excellent observers, are well informed and, they are also systems thinkers; being able to see forest and the trees.
Connecting dots comes natural to them. This doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It just means you’ll have to begin following new habits to start seeing what isn’t there.
Trendspotting is a strategic way of innovating
We are at that time of the year when everyone is predicting what will matter next year. There are countless articles from every industry being written about what trends to watch for in 2013. But like I said, everyone has access to this information. So would you believe it to be true?
Instead, I challenge you to develop your own point of view about the future and come up with your own conclusions. You might come up with similar views as others, but the point is to start doing it yourself. Trendspotting is an ongoing activity.
Ask yourself: What do I see? Why is that? How might this influence my category/industry/customer? What does it mean for our organization? How will we react?