Trendsetters are jet setters: how we use trends for inspiration and not just literally!

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By Natalie Golffed

October 28, 2021

The closer we get to the end of the year, the more articles about trends for the following year start popping up. Articles with titles that make us think that the writers can see into the future. 

All around us, people start forecasting the trends that will impact the following year, but they do it based on what they have experienced recently. And even though that might be interesting in some fields, it might also be the case that having lists of trends makes us all subconsciously biased in a way that shapes how we think, sometimes limiting our creativity. 

In nature, there are two types of decisions: the fight or flight and the everyday decisions. The former are those that impact directly on our survival, and the latter are those that shape our lives. They can be as simple as choosing what to wear when we wake up, or as complex as integrating our experience into our understanding. Let me explain: people rely on their own experience to process and understand the world around them. That’s the way things usually work: we experience something, we learn from it, and then the next time we face that experience or at the very least a similar one, we’re better equipped to make decisions, and with less friction. The end goal behind this is streamlining all decisions other than the fight or flight ones, that need to be taken in the blink of an eye.

The same process happens when people set and define trends for the short- or medium-term future: they base them on their recent experiences, learnings, findings, or needs. And while it’s important to take experiences into account, trends need to be assessed in their context. Just because a tool is trending doesn’t mean it will work on any project: it’s like wanting every problem to be a nail just because the hammer is trending. Evaluating trends on their own, without contextualizing them, can take our work out of focus because we spend so much time and effort trying to make our challenges fit our solutions. Likewise, not all trends will manifest in the same way across industries, regions, or cultures. This is also something that needs to be considered before making a commitment.

Are lists of trends totally useless? Of course not! They can be great sources of inspiration if we read them from a different perspective. They can become doors to new possibilities and innovation. For example, trends in logistics might be of interest for a healthcare project, or tools that are trending can be used for something other than what they were conceived for and help us overcome a situation. Again, in natural terms, we can think of this idea as cross-pollination, sometimes between industries and sometimes between tools. For us, the important thing is not the trend itself, but rather the value that it delivers and the boundaries and problems that we can impact because of them. That’s how we defy the trends’ edge: by not taking them literally. We see the power of the trends in the lightbulbs that they switch on inside of our heads, and not in using them as torches. What they ignite inside of us is what can bring the difference we are trying to make.

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