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Taking TrendWatching to the Masters

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As part of TrendWatching's educational outreach, Victoria Foster, head of the TrendWatching Insight Network, leads sessions with students around the world that are exploring innovation in various contexts. Her next stop took her to Ravensbourne University in Greenwich, London, as she helped students with a meaningful, tangible issue—the long-term health of the residents in a borough of one of Europe's most polluted cities.

Opening the course prospectus, I had to do a double take. Here it was: A study that addresses the challenges of modern day life, shaped by a globally-connected society and an on-demand world by developing suitability-led solutions that put people at the heart of business, technology and society. Had I found myself mistakenly re-reading TrendWatching's own brand mission statement?

Fortunately for me, this wasn't the case. That modus operandi, in fact, belongs to Ravensbourne University's Masters of Design and Innovation—a one year program that explores using ‘design thinking’ to solve some of societies’ and businesses’ biggest issues.

Throughout the course, students explore the many methods and approaches used to drive innovation, so partnering with TrendWatching is a natural fit. We were invited to run a 2-day program for students, introducing them to our counterintuitive approach to gleaning customer insights from existing innovations. Through our Trend-Driven Innovation methodology, we lead the students on a journey through beneficial innovations for both businesses and society at large.

On day one we painted the overall picture. Over the course of five hours, we gave the students a run down of our business-first approach to spotting trends, including how this provides us with useful consumer insights and the trends that can result from it.. Using our cornerstone Consumer Trend Canvas, we also applied trends to brands in a quick-fire ideation session.

As we kicked off the second day, we put purpose first. The students looked at how TrendWatching’s trends and our Trend-Driven Innovation methodology could solve their challenge at hand: to develop a long-term holistic strategy to improve the health of the residents of Greenwich, London—a project with true purpose and a tangible outcome. Through this challenge, the students are working alongside local authorities, residents and businesses to develop practical solutions that could improve the health and wellbeing of the local citizens, for generations to come.

This session took the form of a round-table discussion, as we debated how short-term innovations could contribute to long-term strategies to improve social wellbeing. Working with our Trend Radar and the “Focus” chapter from our  book Trend Driven Innovation, we looked at how to assess trends and identify the most fitting ones to work with now and as the project develops over 6 months, 5 years, 10 years and beyond. We also looked at regional differences in trends—both global and city-wide—and how this could impact a project based in one of London’s many diverse boroughs.

Creating a strategy to improve the health of the next generation is no small job. And, it was an empowering process that demonstrated how TrendWatching’s trends and methodology can sit alongside design thinking, human-centered design theory and other schools of thought, to help create sustainability-led solutions that put people at the heart of business, technology and society.

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Victoria Foster is the Head of TrendWatching’s Insight Network, as well as working with numerous universities from across the globe to provide materials for students, guest lectures and facilitate longer project. Think a similar course could work for you? Get in touch at victoria@trendwatching.com.  

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