Like products, businesses leverage trends for their advantage. They use them to validate their agendas and justify performance levels. Aligning with popular or generally accepted beliefs creates the impression that they are externally focused and on top of things. It also implies that they have taken decisions that most stakeholders would have taken.
An example of businesses leveraging trends is how they position their annual financial results. Organizations across industries and geographies cite generally accepted (fashionable) factors--consumer buying habits, digital migration, political stability, e-commerce, etc.--to justify decisions made and performance achieved. Analysts and shareholders may question performance, but they rarely question the validity of these 'headwinds' (positive impacts) and 'tailwinds' (positive ones).
Another way businesses use trends is through the language they include in strategic and operating plans. For example, being 'agile' is a popular way to address today's unprecedented pace of change. Also, terms like 'reinvention,' 'transformation,' and 'disruption' are fashionable strategies for remaining relevant to consumers. Trends are good to cite if a business wants to be viewed as progressive and competent.
Like products and businesses, people also align with trends for their gain. Whether positioning themselves for promotions or securing new consulting clients, aligning with current trends creates the impression of confidence, competence and business acumen. It also differentiates them from those who are holding onto older trends.
To be on trend, try these approaches:
- Monitor media--networks, blog posts, news agencies, conference speaking topics, etc.--to uncover emerging topic patterns
- From this list, select the trends you value and become knowledgeable about them
- Adopt language used to describe these trends
- Stop using out-of-date language associated with past trends, e.g. stop being 'synergistic' and get off the 'bleeding edge'
- Research trends that are quoted by your leaders--common reference points help build strong relationships
- Given that the life cycle of a trend is shaped like a bell-curve, move onto a new trend when the existing one is at its height of popularity (the peak of the curve)
Aligning with current trends is beneficial for products, businesses and people. These concepts lend credibility to viewpoints and signal capabilities needed to manage change. Trends are good to cite if you want to be successful.