I have discussions with consulting groups, principals and partners, and they ask me about the future and about trends. “How do you see that world?” They ask a bunch of questions and I answer, “I don’t know.” If you know the future, what are you going to do? Trends are trends. I don’t want to spend my time on this planet thinking about that. We don’t know the future or which way we will go. One way to attack a trend of the future is to just follow it. That is a wrong way to approach things. A second way is to just pick an option, A or B, or A and B.

The third way is to just break it. Create something totally new. Create a totally new uncertainty which just absorbs the others. Innovation is this third way. If you are talking about innovation, not just survival, knowing the trend is not important. You don’t have to spend millions of dollars analyzing the future or having a report.

Start thinking different. Start from a small amount of information. Think from nothing. People are afraid to build something from nothing but that is very important.

Even with climate change, the system is so complicated. People are freaking out but they don’t see on their own or think by themselves. They don’t feel by themselves. They follow someone’s eyes, thoughts, and feelings, like Al Gore. But I am not Al Gore and it is dangerous to follow someone else, even someone with some authority.

Another important part is knowing what you can do. You have to do something you like. You have to do to something you can do and do something where you can contribute. This cross section is very important. For instance, if it is something you like and can do but people hate, you shouldn’t do it. If it is something people like but you cannot do it, then you shouldn’t do it.

There is a boundary that I can impact and a line where I cannot. I cannot help stop global warming. I cannot help a poor community in Uganda. There a lot of people talking about these big things, things they cannot solve. A lot of people also talk about things too close to them. We go to extremes, either out of the boundary or too close to our capabilities. The important thing is figuring out the edge and working on the edge. If everyone knew their boundaries and tried to solve some problem at the edge of their boundaries, that would be the best for human beings. Push outside what you can do and your boundaries will be much bigger than you think.

Hideshi Hamaguchi is considered a leading mind in creative concept development, strategy building and decision management on both sides of the Pacific. In 1994, he developed Japan’s first corporate Intranet. Hamaguchi also led the core concept development for the first USB flash drive that was introduced in 2000. Hideshi has spoken internationally on topics of innovation and strategy, received numerous design distinctions, including IDEA Gold awards, and served as a juror for the Red Dot Design Awards.

This excerpt is from American Dreamers, available now from Sharp Stuff.