Trends & Innovation (Analyzing Trends Lecture Series)

In this next installment of the Slideshare lecture series, we will be looking at how trend analysis can effectively impact innovation. There are cognitive deficits that hold businesses back from framing the future correctly. We get caught by our own ego and inability to adapt to the changes around us.

As Theodore Levitt said, “People don’t want quarter-inch drills, they want quarter inch holes.” Innovation gets caught in stuff over people. It often misses that its role is to provide vision and to imagine markets that are not completely articulated yet. Trend analysis can be invaluable in finding that vision earlier and with a clearer sense of how to apply it within the framework of the business. We need to move beyond commoditizing the cultural information we gather and start understanding it more deeply to change how we go about making things that matter. The key is in seeing culture as a dynamic system.

Steven Johnson covers this idea of the connectedness of context and innovations in his book How We Got to Now. Johnson writes:

“Our lives are surrounded and supported by a whole class of objects that are enchanted with the ideas and creativity of thousands of people who came before us: inventors and hobbyists and reformers who steadily hacked away at the problem of making artificial light or clean drinking water so that we can enjoy those luxuries today without a second thought, without even thinking of them as luxuries in the first place…”

We need an approach to innovation that taps into this potential. One that fully realizes the conspiring potential of discrete groups of people building on the products and services we seek to build and improve over time. We need to place our innovation in the context of society and model the future towards impactful and sustainable behavior.

Trend analysis is central to solving these problems. The question is whether we are effectively predicting futures based on the human codes that are at work. We need to get good at reading the language of our world to see how people are adapting with and without us. We need to building to the technology and start building to the human. Humans are not machines. If we underestimate their response we usually fail.

In this installment, I review the framework of innovation and culture mapping (slides 2–24). I also review three categories: the future of fast fashion (slides 25–57), the future of cars (slides 58–82), and the future of fast food (Slides 83–102).

You can find more on this lecture series here.

You can follow our class blog here.

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