Jani de Kock from South Africa put in a request for us to blog about how to know if the trend manifestations and signals you’ve spotted are good or not. So, it’s time to get critical and review and select the most interesting and relevant ones.
Why select your trend spots?
By the time you have collected many manifestations, you might feel overloaded with information. When you glance over your signals, you’ll probably feel some of them leap out more than others.
Selecting is about cherry-picking the most relevant signs and making a first rough cut.
You can do this by asking yourself questions about every single signal. Crucial in this step is that you dare to make choices and delete, discard and throw away some of your findings.
How to decide what is most relevant?
To be able to select the most interesting signals you can use a checklist of questions to assess the relevance of everything you have spotted. Seasoned trend researchers have these questions in the back of their minds while spotting, and every time they spot something interesting they automatically check the relevancy of it.
To experiment with selecting, first spot many signs of change, pile them up and then start the selection process.
Check every manifestation one by one and ask yourself critical questions, like the ones proposed in the following checklist.
- Is it innovative?
- Is it inspiring?
- Is it reliable?
- Is it creating impact?
You can use the canvas below 👇 to ‘rate’ your signals and keep score.
Let’s take a closer look at all four of these critical questions you can ask about the manifestations of trends you have observed and collected.
Is it innovative?
How new and up to date is your signal? New is a relative term. Maybe you personally think that a lot of your signals are new, but are they new to others too? Is it a really wild sign of change or a more established one? You can check this by asking around to see if others have heard about the signal. Or you can research the manifestations online further to see how many hits you get and how recent these are. Getting a feel for newness is something you can train by spotting often and creating a benchmark to compare your findings with.
Is it inspiring?
How inspiring is the manifestation you spotted? Start by asking yourself why you find it inspiring. What aspects make this sign stand out to you? Then ask yourself why someone else might also find it inspiring or not. If you tell others about it, how do they react? Does it create a specific effect with people, and how intense is the reaction?
Is it reliable?
How trustworthy is the signal? Did you double-check the main source? Try to work as a journalist and validate your sources. Be aware that news media are not as objective as you might think, and individual’s blogs or vlogs may also include non-factual information or hoaxes. Especially when it comes to numbers, it is best to fact-check as thoroughly as you can.
Is it creating impact?
What kind of impact could the signal generate in the world? Think about how the spotted manifestation might influence the future quality of life of people. What kind of potential does this seed of change hold for the future? A new kind of hairstyle is probably less impactful than a new way of thinking or a disruptive new technology. With any signal, a helpful question to ask yourself is what would happen if it became the norm and part of our daily lives.
To wrap it up:
The step of selecting shows a fine line between the scanning and analysing phases, because you are already making a first rough analysis of each signal. It requires you to be as critical and objective as possible.
Answering the questions in the checklist might mean you have to research your manifestations some more. When in doubt about holding onto a signal or deleting it, do some quick extra research. Discuss the topic with others or search online for more information.
Although working with a checklist of questions seems quite rational and analytic, intuition is also at play when selecting the most relevant manifestations. To answer the questions there are often no facts and figures to help you out in deciding if a spot is new and inspiring enough.
As mentioned earlier, for experienced researchers making a first rough selection of their collection of manifestations comes almost naturally. With practice, you will be able to do the same because you will have created a frame of reference to compare manifestations with.
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