How does a trend expert work? What is a trend really, and how do they even spot and analyze trends? We have asked the danish futurist, Anne Skare Nielsen from ‘Future Navigator’.

This is a small excerpt from the book ‘Trendsociology v. 2.0’, published by pej gruppen. Buy the book here.

Why and how did you become a trend expert?
I’ve always been extremely curious and thought that I would work with environmental policy (biology + political science, but it was too boring). I randomly tripped over the doorstep of the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, and it was just a match made in heaven. In 2003, Liselotte and I started Future Navigator, and we have been busy mapping out the future since then.

Why is it important to forecast trends?
Because you can actually predict the future. And because you will be less afraid of the unknown if you can read your surroundings, your society and your options correctly. You will be less inclined to put your life in someone else’s hands and instead take responsibility for yourself – what you want to become, invest in and fight for.

How do you define the concept of a trend?
Future studies is an eclectic approach to the world. Which means that futurists steal everything left, right and centre from different disciplines and make the different approaches work together. The aim is to create an overview and show new paths towards the future. There are lots of people who are working to understand problems and write analyses. For futurists, it’s about creating a future vision and clearing a pathway. A futurist is able to see what does not yet exist, and is able to envision radically different shifts and developments that break with habits and the habitual mentality – without losing the connection to reality.
Future studies is both art and science: Art, because you must use your imagination and your senses, train your intuition and always keep your eyes and ears open. 365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24
hours a day; Science, because we are working systematically with research, statistics, data, method development, critical-constructive reasoning – and, in particular, because most of what we are doing, in the end, must be turned into some kind of social value.

Which types of trends interest you the most?
The tough trends and game-changers because they are easy for people to understand and create a ‘sense of urgency’.

How and where do you discover your trends?
All the time. Via projects, books, articles, conferences, interviews with other people and travel. I take an exorbitant number of photos and log details via Evernote and Pinterest, along with the other future navigators. As a futurist, you are extremely curious. You talk to everyone and all sorts: the Director of A.P. Moller, a mayor in Northern
Jutland and a petrol station attendant in Spain, as well as shop owners in Canada or customers in Ikea. It’s like doing a jigsaw puzzle where everybody is a piece. It doesn’t look like anything until the last little piece falls into place. I also tend to place myself in boxes with people who are completely different than myself. For example, I am
on the Advisory Board of The People and Security Association, which is made up of grey-haired men in navy blue suits with the Danish flag on their lapel.


Are you interested in getting your hands on the entire book, (it’s 400 pages), it is possible to buy here.

The book consists of three parts:
1. Theory and practical description of what a trend is, how it is spread and what effect it may have.
2. Interview with 17 of the world’s top trend researchers
3. Practical process description (5 phased process) with concrete methods and tools for working with trends.