June  2007     Edition 26
Trending

A few thoughts on your Amazing ability to Trend

, how to leverage it, and why that’s important. Ever wonder how a baseball outfielder figures out where a ball will meet the glove when hit by a batter 200 feet away, at a variety of angles and directions, with different velocities, wind speeds and spin on the ball?   All done in less than a second.  More remarkable is that the average adult can do a pretty good job of this also.   

Imagine the math the brain is doing to calculate this real time changing trajectory.  Yet the outfielder doesn’t consciously think about this math, nor needs to.  The outfielder just looks at the ball and judges where it will fall, including making several midcourse and last instant adjustments.

I’m sure you can think of many examples; driving a car, playing tennis, preparing to go to the airport, getting to work on time, finishing a presentation, when you’re subconsciously doing a lot of trending to figure out what’s in front of you, whether you should rush, or you can take your time.   You don’t do this with paper, pencil, or computer.   Your Brain is trending … it’s a Trending Machine designed for very fast trend analysis, combining and solving partial differential equations, Fourier and La’Place transforms and more … and you thought you weren’t that good at math!  The premises for your inductive reasoning (most of your reasoning) are based on your brain’s ability to Trend.

So why is it sometimes so difficult to use this skill

to see the trends of a company, a project, even a relationship between people?   Why can’t we always just do an instant Trend Analysis to “see” that an initiative is going bad, or what the downstream consequences of a decision are, or to grab an opportunity?

Ever watch a young child learn to catch?

  They hold out their hands (or glove).  You lob the ball slowly and it goes sailing past them.  They don’t move their glove, feet, or body.   Soon they learn that the ball isn’t coming to them, but they have to go to the ball.  Over time, and fairly quickly, their brain learns that it must do the Trending calculation, and so they start.    With practice their brain gets the right “formula” and begins to frequently calculate correctly.

Like catch, you have to learn to trend elements of your business

.  Some of this will be automatic as you gain experience and your brain will automatically work for you.  However in new situations or for younger workers, you need to make a more conscious effort to trend.  One obvious way is to ask yourself “What is the trend here?”  Do this by comparing with other instances you may have encountered; other projects, other conversations, other stories you’ve researched.   Ask “Does anyone see a trend here?” 

There is almost always at Trend

.  While each day you may encounter something new or different, there are few new and different things in the world, and almost all will fit into some sort of trend.  So the question isn’t “Is there a trend?”, but “What is the trend?”  Your mission is to find out what that trend is … and here is why!

Why should you care?

  Simple.  If you understand the trend, you can explain why things are the way they are, and more important, you can predict where things are going, you can predict the future … you can CATCH THE BALL.   You can see the downstream benefit and continue on, or the diminishing returns and stop an initiative.  You can prevent bad things from happening in the future because you can predict it, as well as take advantage of the good opportunities the trend predicts.

The Takeaway. Trending... Humans have a built in calculator to do this.  Bring it up a notch to your conscious and “Think” about “Trends” when you are solving problems and asking about why things are and where they are going to be.

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