Signal detection is an on-going process and you’ve got to make a discipline out of scanning a variety of sources while thinking deeply about their meaning. There are no future facts. You need to learn to be a generalist that is willing to entertain the seemingly ridiculous. The goal is being able to identify your go-to credible sources of information while honing your skills of nonsense detection. Creativity in business isn't just idea generation, it’s about seeing them through and making them happen in an engaging and productive way. Taking a risk and trusting your gut. It’s about awareness and creating a shared, long-term vision of the future.
Understanding how to develop creative work for any customer can only be done by first knowing the consumer. Not just who they are, but how they speak and where they live. You need to immerse yourself in their world. You can’t do this from behind your desk. You gotta get out there. How far are you willing to get away from your comfort zone? Are you just going down the hall to someone else’s office? Are you leaving the building, maybe going down the street? Are you heading downtown? How about the other side of town? If you want to stay relevant, you’re going to need to take a walk. If you're a business leader, you'll need to be closely observing the changing behaviors, attitudes and beliefs of consumers. These changes are revealed through slow moving shifts in cultural values. They affect not only the products we buy and the experiences we seek, but also how we choose to live our lives. Build scenarios with these signals you observe to identify possible macro trends. Afterward, filter them into your own brand DNA and innovate at the right time. If you’re creating something for two to three years from now (or more), you’ll no doubt be wanting to produce something that your consumer will be ready for when the time arrives.
It’s actually signals that turn our attention to possible innovations before they become obvious and not trends per se. Signals can provide evidence of the new and unexpected, but their real value lies in the ability to capture the zeitgeist sooner than more traditional social science methods. If the same topic is being explored by a similar subculture in different parts of the world, that signal has gone trend. The 'edge,’ in most creative cities, is usually where you'll find the artists. It's here where you can pick up the signals by observing change, as you analyze your pictures, notes and other sources of inspiration to identify trends. Future trends are already here and they’re already deeply affecting our society. Being ready for them will be the key to success in the coming years. You have to be prepared. When you embed trend forecasting into business, innovation, and marketing, strategic foresight is essential. Don't miss out on growth and profit opportunities.