Dec 15 A Lesson in Trends and Assumptions: Look East

I thoroughly enjoyed the recent TrendWatchingLive Chicago conference. It’s hard to find a group of people more interesting (and with more interesting job titles) and the sessions were compelling, exquisitely narrated and well executed.

Before the conference, I thought about trends as cropping up at a relatively similar pace around the world. Sure, they might start in a small innovative pocket, but with the interconnectedness of everything I assumed that “early adopters” now referred more to individuals than to entire economies.

As I listened to many of the trend sessions, I found myself nodding my head in agreement, finding this [spoiler alert: false] assumption seemingly validated.

Until we got to Asia: Disruption 101. The services that are disrupting traditional business models in Asia are meeting the same needs that are present everywhere, but with increasingly innovative methods. And in addition to basic needs, they are also addressing larger questions about how people can feel connected in a digital world and validated in an increasingly fragmented lifestyle.

As innovation after innovation was presented as examples, I felt more and more naïve about my understanding of what is truly disruptive today.

I mean, has anyone else used an app that lets you test-drive your neighbor’s car before buying it? Or furnished your house with an on-demand furniture rental service? Or watched strangers mop the floor for hours via live stream? Oh and Snapchat, that’s okay for the US but not really that relevant in Asia anymore.

This session reminded me that assumptions are dangerous, and especially toxic when considering trends or disruption.

This small epiphany was one of many provoked throughout the day—I’d love to hear other insights from fellow participants. You can reach me at

Claire Carlson
Claire Carlson

Claire is a strategist who enjoys learning about the intersection of psychology and culture, and about how patterns and stories shape individuals and communities.