Abhijit BhaduriGuest Author

How to spot trends

By | Abhijit Bhaduri |Keynote speaker, Author and Columnist

Trends and Weak Signals is a Clubhouse Room hosted by Estelle Metayer . Every Saturday at 6:30pm India Time, I get a chance to hop on to the stage to moderate this room with her and some incredible folks. They are all polymaths and innovation gurus from countries around the world. These are thinkers whose books and ideas have inspired you.

The room starts with a trend that someone describes and many other speakers add their own commentary and colour to it. It meanders and flows like a river. That is just what makes in magical. Yesterday was one such day.

Here are some ideas I pulled together from my notes. I have shared my comments and observations in the notes below.

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Street art, graffiti and street culture

Once you start thinking of the street as a platform for communication, you begin to see the unseen. Your senses come alive with all the sights, sounds, smells of the street.

Yesterday’s Clubhouse had Mikel CirkusGlobal Creative Director, Foresight & Trenz, Taste & Beyond of Firmenich. You have most certainly “tasted” and “smelt” a flavour or fragrance created by Firmenich. When someone asks what does Firmenich do, the answer is ” We create fragrances, flavors and ingredients to delight the senses.”

Here are some ideas I learned about and some that I use.

  • Think of the street as a communication platform.

Look for street art and graffiti. Pay attention to the language used, the dominant colours, themes and the symbols that show up repeatedly.

I find posters a fascinating source of insight. They are everywhere – on the walls, on doors, on lamp posts and trees. It tells you what people are searching for. Are they looking for pest-control, selling old furniture, love, a missing pet … the list is endless.

Get started: A phone camera is all that you need. Taking notes has been helpful. If you go back to the same spot after 3-4 months, you will notice the minor changes. That means it is time to get started.

I have made two collages of some street art and graffiti. Tell me what you observe.

If you have pictures of street art and graffiti, do share them.

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  • Look for the search terms on Google (Read about it here)
  • Conversations: Talking to people in bars and cafes in a city can be great. Most people are happy to talk about their lives. Then there is music and food stalls. The smell and sounds of a city can be a source of insight. How does that sound change as the day progresses. In some cultures, being rich means being able to cut yourself off from the sounds that others hear.
  • Talk to children and college students. They are usually early adopters.
  • Taking classes that are being offered by the Teaching Assistants (not Professors) is a good place to catch trends.

Recommended Books

  • Sometimes you can get books that showcase a city from the eyes of various professions. Tokyo Totem is one such book about Tokyo. It gives you a view of the city through the eyes of a bathhouse connoisseur, a host, an architect, a topographer, an artist, or a child.

Post a question on social media and ask people which book they would recommend as a pre-read before you visit their city or organisation or country.

What are your recommendations of books that help you understand this world of insights, trends and sense-making. Please share your recommendations in the comments below.

How accurate are these predictions?

  • Deloitte 2021 Human Capital talks about five forces that are gathering momentum. Read it
  • KPMG has predicted a few tech trends for this year. <Read it>

While you are at it, look at the predictions for the last two years and see how well those scenarios played out.

Going back to revisit trends is a good way to know what became mainstream and what died a quiet (and sometimes noisy) death. That should not surprise us. It is a world in Perpetual Beta.

Republished with permission and originally published at Abhijit Bhaduri’s LinkedIn

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