Special Guest PostI first met Dorie Clark (@dorieclark) [link] about two years ago and was imme­di­ate­ly impressed with her intel­lect and her ener­gy. She is a mar­ket­ing strate­gist who teach­es at Duke Uni­ver­si­ty’s Fuqua School of Busi­ness [link]. I helped to intro­duce her to IE Busi­ness School here in Madrid, Spain, [link], where she is now an adjunct fac­ul­ty mem­ber. She is also one of our NextSen­sors [link]! A short while ago, we both taught in the “Women On Boards” pro­gram co-spon­sored by IE and Wim­Biz [link], a women-in-busi­ness pub­lic ser­vice cre­at­ed to help women entre­pre­neurs and based in Nige­ria. You may have read her first book, Rein­vent­ing You [link]. Just this week, Dorie pub­lished a new book that is both fun to read and extreme­ly help­ful to any­one who wants to boost their per­son­al pro­file. Stand Out: How to Find Your Break­through Idea and Build a Fol­low­ing Around It [link] not only ties into nextsens­ing, it also pro­vides help­ful infor­ma­tion about how to pro­mote new ideas in the best pos­si­ble ways. I’m now enjoy­ing her book and hope you enjoy her guest post.

Dorie Clark

Dec. 3, 2014. Boston, MA.
Por­traits of Dorie Clark.
© 2014 Mar­i­lyn Humphries

Just about every­one can see the real­ly big pic­ture. The Inter­net is becom­ing more impor­tant every day. Mobile com­put­ing will dec­i­mate desk­tops. Indi­a’s and Chi­na’s economies are expand­ing dra­mat­i­cal­ly. Yes . . . and what does any of it mean for us? We know the wave is com­ing, but how do we make use of that infor­ma­tion? How can we pre­pare to suc­ceed in the new econ­o­my? Too many peo­ple pon­tif­i­cate about what’s hap­pen­ing now, and don’t shed any light on the impli­ca­tions mov­ing for­ward. So how do you actu­al­ly know what’s next?

In my new book, I dis­cuss the impor­tance of stay­ing close to the ground, where research and inno­va­tions take place. You can only learn so much by read­ing news­pa­pers and get­ting sec­ond­hand infor­ma­tion. Instead, it’s your time in the trench­es — talk­ing with those on the front lines and see­ing things for your­self — that will help you understand.

Robert Scoble, a tech­nol­o­gy opin­ion leader, makes a point of get­ting first­hand infor­ma­tion. “Fig­ure out how to get as close to the research labs as pos­si­ble,” he says. He’s become a recog­nised author­i­ty on sub­jects as diverse as blog­ging, Google Glass, and Blue­tooth low ener­gy radio not because he invent­ed any of them (he did­n’t) but because he knew their cre­ators, avid­ly fol­lowed the tech­nolo­gies’ progress, used them, and wrote and spoke about them. “I’m always look­ing to meet peo­ple who are doing deep research,” he says.

Of course, many indus­tries don’t have research labs, per se, but they all have equiv­a­lents, places where new insights are most like­ly to arise. You may want to track cer­tain think tanks or uni­ver­si­ties. Maybe the end users or front line staff in your indus­try can shed light on emerg­ing trends. Track where the most impor­tant advances have come from in the past few years, and you’ll under­stand who you need to be watch­ing to see what’s coming.

You’ll have a par­tic­u­lar advan­tage if, like Robert, you can find out about emerg­ing devel­op­ments in the ear­ly stages, before they become main­stream. Per­haps you could make a point of attend­ing con­fer­ences where new inno­va­tions are talked about, read­ing indus­try jour­nals, or sim­ply keep­ing in close touch with col­leagues who are “in the know”. How­ev­er you do it, one of the best ways to devel­op a rep­u­ta­tion as an author­i­ty in your field is by stay­ing on top of trends, inform­ing oth­ers about them, and shar­ing your take on what they mean and how we should adapt.

Here are sev­er­al ques­tions you can ask your­self to begin to get a look at what’s next (and if you’d like even more, you can down­load my free work­book, “139 Ques­tions to Help You Find Your Break­through Idea and Build a Fol­low­ing Around It” [link]).

  • What are three trends shap­ing your indus­try? Are they short-term or fun­da­men­tal? How would you describe them to an out­sider unfa­mil­iar with your field?
  • In the com­ing years, how will those trends change the sta­tus quo?
  • What should smart com­pa­nies or indi­vid­u­als do in order to thrive in the future? How should they pre­pare? What steps should they take?
  • Are there com­pa­nies or enti­ties that have han­dled change par­tic­u­lar­ly well? What can you learn from their example?
  • What inno­va­tions or new devel­op­ments do you know about that most oth­ers do not?
  • Where is the locus of inno­va­tion in your field? Par­tic­u­lar regions or com­pa­nies or divi­sions or think tanks? How can you ensure that you stay close to the work they’re doing?

We can nev­er pre­dict the future exact­ly, of course. But by reg­u­lar­ly ques­tion­ing assump­tions and ask­ing the right ques­tions, we can be as pre­pared as pos­si­ble to under­stand emerg­ing trends and jump on opportunities.

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