Voice of the Future – TED: what are trends, events, drivers?

Getting started with Voice of the Future (VoF) analyses requires a clear understanding of certain terms.  These include: events, drivers and trends.
Figure 1 (rjourdan)
As Figure 1 implies, there are general many more ad hoc events than drivers, and more drivers than identified trends. They are related to each other and this is an important facet in understanding them.
Events: Is a thing that happens, especially one of importance. They can be planned public or social occasion.
Drivers: Any natural or human-induced factor or force that directly or indirectly causes a change. Drivers reshape companies’ business contexts. Drivers include climate change, globalization, new technology, regulatory change, demographics, and new consumer values.
Trends: Trends are changes occurring over time in, (s)ocial, (t)echnological, (e)conomic, (e)nvironmental (p)olitical spectrums, for example. These frameworks are often stated as an acronym such as STEEP, or PESTLE where the additional E for the Environment and the L for legal; or other combinations.
Consider these and/or other possible categories that are important to your work.
Trends occur gradually but at varying degrees of speed and impact and can be exploited to take advantage of the opportunity or to avoid the damage they may threaten. But, beware! “A trend is only a trend until it bends.”
The main purposes of a trend:
1. Determining if a set of points exhibits a positive trend, a negative trend, or no trend at all.
2. Predicting unknown or future data points.
Trends can put us in a great position to anticipate future customer needs, wants, and desires.
“Trends are … not confined to particular industries and interactions, collisions and intersections between trends and across industries … explored in depth … identify potential strategic implications for your organization.”

 (Maree Conway) 

Using Trends in Foresight Analysis
Voice of the Future Analysis considers a wide scope of issues and change. Very often, these analyses involve use of emerging issues and trends across the STEEP framework. Using a systems approach to the analysis (part of the outside-in thinking) enables understanding global change and the impact of systemic or essential drivers of the change.
Trends do not act alone on a situation under investigation, so understanding possible collisions and interactions can be insightful. This exposes people to different types of content about the future and helps challenge ideas about the future of a concern.
Where to Learn More
* Practical Foresight Guide – Chapter 1; Shaping Tomorrow (
* Mason, Henry; Mattin, David; Luthy, Maxwell; Dumitrescu, Delia. Trend-Driven Innovation: Beat Accelerating CustomerExpectations (p. 46). Wiley. Kindle.

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