How ‘Trend-spotting’ can be a routine team exercise at work…

It wasn’t long ago that big news involved just action and information – who? what? where? etc. and did not entertain or indulge our modern concept of social “trends”. However, in recent few years, there is a vague sense that more and more people seem to be doing or thinking or buying something or other that might possibly reflect the mood or psyche or spirit of the nation as a whole. What wasn’t news and only small talk is now ubiquitous.

The best way to identify some relevant trends ourselves is to just walk around with our eyes and ears wide open. It can’t get simpler than that!

The primary step is to find some individuals (more insightful & articulate, the better 🙂) and talk to them and find out what’s troubling them or moving them. Problems are a great springboard for new ideas. Ask them what they’d be doing if they ran the company being studied or observe their mannerisms in particular situations. They won’t invent the future but they will definitely help with a few ideas.

The tricks to spot the next big thing could simply be put as follows:

  • Be curious about everything.
  • Ask why new things are happening and try to find answers for it.
  • Look for patterns. What are the links between new ideas, attitudes, and behaviour?
  • Hang out at the edge of the market and watch what the upstart startups are doing.
  • Seek ideas and innovations from other industries and countries and apply them to your own.
  • Watch out for counter-trends and their opportunities and challenges.
  • The biggest trends are always a confluence of smaller trends so, not to miss the macro because you’re concentrating on the micro and vice versa.
  • Keep it simple. Start with what’s individually true and then look for the universal.
  • Not to confuse short-lived fads with major trends.
  • Use the history of products and markets as a guide to their future.

Trends can be tricky to get but with a host of information available in this information age from newspapers to the web to the electronic media to merely observing the surroundings, a sufficient amount can be brought to the desk. Moreover, increase in blogging and web-discussions brings in first-hand opinions expressed across age-groups and across categories.

The knowledge-sharing process between team members should ideally happen on a day that supports enough provision of time to conduct research to reach relevance and derive conclusions. After a relaxing weekend, which other day could be better to fight the Monday blues!

Monday afternoons should be ideal for knowledge-sharing, brainstorming sessions, added to which they give a leeway to explore the information and derive conclusions in the following days through systematic research. Being otherwise a dull start-up day, it could be in this case, invited as a pep-up session. An important aspect of these sessions is the target audience being discussed. When turned on a well-selected target, trend-spotting can be a powerful tool for illumination or criticism. The process of analyzing the ‘day in the life of the selected target’ could be on a monthly basis information gathering. Ultimately the process of maintaining relevancy, triggering fresh ideas and gaining first mover advantage should be the objective of the ‘Trend-spotting Cell’.

Am sure if an agency / company realises the importance of setting up this ”Trend-spotting Cell’ among their team members by making it a routine exercise rather than disregarding it as just another excuse of whiling away time yet again in the meeting room, it will bring in a whirlwind of ideas, thoughts, energy and positive attitude that results in not just doing good to business but also in bringing satisfaction of having justified the output of their work in best possible sense rather than treating work deliveries as regular anxious or mundane day-to-day activities.