Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsAnother possible tool we can use to gain more understanding about the future is by analyzing trends. Before we carry on I think it's important to make sure we understand what a trend really means. The word might be sometimes overused or abused. In our field of study, in futures thinking, we're not talking about the latest vogues or the latest fads. We're not talking about the fact that possibly this season skinny jeans are the latest trend, or polka-dot bikinis, not that kind of trend. We're talking about the development over a fairly lengthy period of time. We're talking about something which waxes or wanes over time, such as something mentioned earlier, a growing or rising life expectancy.

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 secondsThat would be a trend, and our gain. So trend analysis is about, again, identifying these trends, but also observing them historically, and making some kind of call about how these trends might perpetuate and continue in the years and decades that lie ahead. Sometimes we might be looking at quantitative trends, and other times qualitative trends. The idea is, and this links up very nicely, with our previous topic of scanning the environment. We find the trends, and now we extrapolate them I repeat, either quantitatively or qualitatively.

Skip to 1 minute and 39 secondsAgain, I think this should be seen not as the end all or the be all, but a very important part of futures thinking in general, but also, as we shall see later, in playing around with scenarios. They are fairly straightforward to do, these analyses. They require little effort. However not always objective. In any futurist work, there's always going to be an element of subjectivity. As a broad distinction, we use quantitative trend analysis for things that are measurable, and qualitative trend analysis for the so-called softer values, such as politics, institutional factors. In particular, where there are simply no quantitative data available.

Skip to 2 minutes and 25 secondsAs we shall see later on, we often use a fundamental trend, and its perpetuation as a so-called base case scenario. But more about that a little bit later.

Trend analysis

In this video we will discuss the analytical nature of information that can be extracted from trends as a result of their repetitive nature, thus increasing the likelihood of predictability,

With reference to the recent global economic crisis, which trends resulting from this period of time do you think would have the biggest impact on business decisions for the future?

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This video is from the free online course:

Futurism and Business: Dealing with Complexity

University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development