how to understand and analyse cultural trends

Photo credit: Time

Sharon Ann Lee’s session kicked off planningness and at the start I had great ambitions of Storifying the un-conference. Alas I had an iPad fail and with it went my notes of what Sharan had to say, but fortunately I can remember some of it (hopefully the best bits). Before I get too far ahead of myself I’d better tell you who Sharon is. Her Twitter profile says she’s:

Cultural trend analyst, writer, maker. Founder of Culture-Brain: a think tank on trends, culture & creativity. I’m like a Jane Goodall for humans.

She’s also got an extremely sunny disposition. I would add that in if I were writing her Twitter profile. Anyway, here is what I’m hoping are the highlights:

–      Cultural trends: the big idea current that shapes and changes what we do like create and believe.

–      She can be tracking anywhere up to 25 trends at one time and she only tracks the longer term trends.

–      Always remember cultural biases: e.g. rugged individualism (American) v’s the homogenous (a lot of Asian countries).

–      A trend she’s tracking right now is ‘design your own success’. She describes it as: The growing trend among young people who are jettisoning traditional ideas of success in favour of a customised model that balances financial reward with community, contribution and personal meaning. Below is a great slide that illustrates it… (please excuse the poor & stolen quality). And here’s a great presentation featuring Sharon on the topic.

Credit: Sharon Ann Lee / Culture Brain

–      She also believes that traditional marketing can’t retrofit for much longer in a climate where people are always trying to adopt ‘new’.

What I liked best about Sharan’s approach to what she does is much of the time she doesn’t actually know what she’s looking for, she’s just looking. Like her, I’m a huge advocate of living like a tourist, everyday in your own city. That way, you can spot those things that you otherwise would probably just pass by.


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