In favour of more surprises. Knowing is good, but is it all good?
As an industry we’ve all become pretty obsessed with knowing what’s coming. Not just next week, or in the weeks and months after that. But in the next 5, 10 and more years. At its core is a thirst for understanding. A basic belief that if we know what’s coming, if we know how people are going to behave, we might be able to exercise some kind of control on how the world should be. It’s why we spend vast amounts of time on things like clustering people into groups with labels — generation x, millennials, yuccies, generation z. And then we use what we know to construct experiences, services, products that fit into and create benefits for their respective lives.
And it works.
It really does.
But, pondering the future, we can’t help wondering if it’s right.
From a broader philosophical perspective. The more we plan, the more we predict, the more we manipulate, then logically thinking the less room there is for surprise — those unexpected moments, twists in fortune, opportunist diverts in direction that bring genuine human delight to our lives.
And maybe that’s a bad thing.
Think about it. If in everything we do we fundamentally strive to create some kind of human connection between brands and their consumers. Because that’s what we really believe delivers success, that consumers like you. Then perhaps in some strange way our pursuit of understanding is limiting us. That if we know everything about everyone. And we know what the landscape looks like for the next XXX years, perhaps theoretically we make life a less exciting prospect.
And when considered from a broader human perspective that’s a question of sustainability. The view that a world without surprise and delight is unsustainable — because surprise and delight are the fundamentals of joy and we, as a species, need, cherish and thrive on joy.
So, perhaps that’s our point. That as designers and creators there is a responsibility to continuously surprise so that we can fill the world with delight. And ultimately that means we need to use what we know to veer off-piste and do the unexpected.
Perhaps the very existence of human-kind depends on it!
No pressure, just more surprises.