Value comes from delivering in the future, not the past. As humans we generally spend significant amounts of time dwelling on the past rather than thinking about the future, particularly how we can design the future to create significant value for our clients and our organizations.
The products being delivered today will not necessarily fulfill the needs of customers in the future. Many organizations after they develop and launch their successful products, become complacent and generally fail to continue to innovate or modify their existing products.
Recognizing patterns and trends in global markets that are impacting our lives, our work and our customers is one way of predicting the future scenarios that can lead to new products and markets. It is also important to recognize new patterns that are just brief fads and differentiate them from long-term trends that could be worth millions. The successful leader and entrepreneur must be able to recognize new patterns and trends that can lead to long-term change.
Patterns and trends are simply characterized as sequences of events, ideas, concepts, or behaviours that have economic, social, environmental, cultural or political significance. In hindsight patterns and trends seem logical. The difficulty is detecting them early while they are still taking shape. For example, many Japanese firms in the 1980s were able to recognize emerging patterns and their implications. As a result they were able to dominate particular markets (e.g. quartz watches, memory chips, flat screen TVs) by acquiring patents and research expertise. Timing is also a key influencing factor when capitalizing on new trend opportunities. Moving too soon can easily result in the same outcome as entering the market too late.
To become successful in identifying patterns and trends you need to develop your intuitive and analytical skills. You also need to be aware of and study the following domains:
- Driving Forces. What are the driving forces that can impact longer term change? For example, globalization, the aging population, increasing need for food, water and energy, protecting our environment etc.
- The Internet. The impact of the internet continues to create change in the way we work, live and play.
- Predicting Change. Gaining a deeper understanding of patterns and how they translate to creating change requires further study of six processes through which patterns evolve – extension, elaboration, recycling, pattern reversal, strange attractions and chaos.
Proactively seeking and identifying patterns and trends will allow you to identify new opportunities to invent the future products and markets that can add value to customers.
Dr John Kapeleris