I have just spent the past few days in Frankfurt, Germany where I have been thin-slicing at the Ambiente trade fair. What is thin-slicing, you might ask? To find our, you must read Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, the author of The Tipping Point. I started his new book on the plane to Frankfurt and I just could not put it down.
In Blink, Gladwell talks about the adaptive unconscious, where our brains draw fast conclusions through an unconscious, rapid recognition of elements like behaviors, characteristics, smells or something else. The key is that our brains are not operating on instinct or intuition (as most creatives believe); it’s more like automatic pilot. Our unconscious mind quickly finds patterns through narrow slices of experience (this is thin-slicing) and uses them to draw conclusions.
Although Gladwell certainly did not write this book for trend trackers and forecasters, it hits the sweet spot in terms of identifying our processes. I have often found myself unable to articulate the art of trend tracking and trend forecasting.
For years, people have asked me to explain what I look for and how I know when a something has trend potential. I have always responded that I wait for the unexpected to make itself obvious to me, then consider how it fits with everything else that I know, especially lifestyle influences. For me, this all takes place in a split second, leaving me with a feeling of “knowing” that has fueled my career for more than 20 years. Thanks to Gladwell, I have been given a window on what is happening behind the scenes in my mind in that flash when I “know.”
Note: I especially appreciated the paragraphs Gladwell devoted to what happens when people try too hard to explain their actions, responses or decisions when problems require a flash of insight vs. a dose logic. This, too, makes Blink a must read.
Before you do anything else, get this book. Then read it. Even if you are not in the trend business, I believe you will walk away with not only a better understanding of yourself, but also a better understanding of how humans function in a variety of situations.