Innovation inherently comes with risk. Great innovators know how to minimise this risk and when it comes to identifying trends, this risk minimisation skill is equally important.
Let's face it, no one wants to invest all their time and energy into developing a new product or service for a short-lived fad. Before we move on, let's check in as to what a trend is and why they are so important.
When we hear the word "trend", we can often think of a "fashion trend", that is, something that pops up for a few seasons and then disappears. Trends, however, can be long-term and roll on for many years. This not only happens in fashion, but in technology, cultural trends, the economy and many other areas.
In short, in the world of business, we are looking to identify trends that will disrupt the business environment enough so that it provides a new opportunity to create new products and services and even possibly create a new market.
If the word "trend" doesn't work for you, then why not call them "disruptors". As many of us have a preventative motivational focus (a preference for avoiding pain and loss), this word may work better for you. In fact, when we look into trends, we can think of three components: uncertainties, disruptors and trends.
We want to identify the key uncertainties that could impact our customers and business. We want to identify what disruptors are arising, the impacts they might have and then finally the specific trends that are emerging around or from these drivers and uncertainties.
If you're starting to freak out thinking you just signed up for a PHD dissertation, relax, we'll make it easy for you.
Before we move on, what's a fad? A fad is something that people thought would be a trend that would stick around, but then they lost interest in it too quickly. If anyone is old enough, you might have heard of the pet rock fad that hit the world. Yes, pet rocks, essentially they were small rocks given a set of eyes, and a mouth. They came in one day and out the next. This is what we want to avoid at all costs. Throwing our resources behind a fad is enough to blacklist you from innovating forever.
Let's get down to business. Here's how we can go about assessing a trend.