Ah, the joys of returning to work in the New Year and sifting through the 2012 predictions emails
… and quickly deleting them as they mostly fall into one of three categories:
1) Already happening … so not a prediction, just spotting the blinding obvious – e.g. 2012 is the year of social media!
2) So generic as to be something my grandmother would highlight – e.g. corporate sucks, personal Apple kit is better
3) A repeat of last year, and every year for the last decade – e.g. growth of mobile technologies
There is a fourth category in technology circles, which is the update … e.g. Apple will release an updated iPad.
For a trend to be truly valuable and useful, it has to identify something that is happening in a niche location (whether geographically, demographically or any other given segmentation), but has the potential to become a true trend driver because the conditions that caused it to happen in a small scale are also true at a wider scale (but haven’t resulted in that impact to date).
This is more than extrapolation.
It is linking an emerging problem or problems, with a set of existing or emerging conditions and a potential solution. So a good prediction not only tells you what is highly likely to happen, but explains why in a way that creates an aha, lightbulb-coming-on type moment.
The only post that I have seen that comes close to this is from Haydn Shaughnessy at Forbes Magazine. Called, “3 Megatrends for 2012 – Or Why Shared Value is Indeed an Answer“, the article draws upon work by Nobel winning economist Amartya Sen, Harvard academics Michael Porter and Mark Kramer to link three megatrends to a wider change in corporations.
Calls for corporations to change and evolve are not new, but the megatrends in the article, recent global protests, failing global businesses and the increasing importance of technology to business do give us a set of factors that makes this more possible than has been likely in recent years.
Author Umair Haque also makes a call to arms for change in a Kindle mini-book for Harvard Business Press that was released at the end of last year. Haque argues that we need to rethink our economic paradigm. Why? Because business as we know it has reached a state of diminishing returns–though we work harder and harder, we never seem to get anywhere.
So, a set of undeniable global conditions, a model that isn’t working and some smart people seeking an answer and solution … ticks the box of a interesting trend for me.