We hear the word ‘innovation’ practically everyday of our lives and many of us strive towards it. But it isn’t something that comes easily. Even the great innovators of our time find it difficulty predicting this ‘next big thing’. The point is we may all have a hunch about the next few weeks, months or even a year, but it’s impossible to predict much beyond that. So many forces are at play in a continuous flux – local and global economics, politics, developments in technology, new product inventions that change consumer behaviour, weather patterns, celebrity fads, a one-off breakthrough… Maybe even the next equivalent of the World Wide Web could serve as a giant curveball thrown into the constantly changing mix. The world is changing and it’s changing more rapidly than ever before.
There are no blueprints for predicting the next big thing, but I do have a few pieces of advice on how to be ready to sniff out the next opportunity when it presents itself:
1. Remember that no idea operates in a vacuum: Get into the habit of spotting what is happening by keeping up with social, economic and environmental trends. Developments in these areas work together to shape change, so what is happening today will inform future trends.
2. Look for the trends that have not affected your business yet: For example, what would the impact be if you knew that mobile phones were going to be the only method of payment in the future? What would that mean for how you develop your products and services?
3. Study the data: What can you learn from your data? What patterns, trends and associations can you make from analysing the data you already have?
4. Make it a habit: If you want to get good at anticipating and responding to trends, as with any professional development, you have to practise. Find a way to make the above activities a habit. Make regular time to think about the next big thing.
Lucy Gower is founder and director at Lucidity. She is a trainer and coach specialising in the people part of innovation. She led the first innovation team at UK children’s charity NSPCC and it was there that Lucy realised that for innovation to succeed you need the best strategic ideas, processes and technology, but the most important ingredient for successful innovation is the right people working together towards a shared goal. Since leaving the NSPCC in 2012 Lucy has worked with over 50 organisations including Amnesty International, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, Nesta, The Children’s Society and Greenpeace.
You can find out more at www.lucidity.org.uk.