Your BREAK THROUGH, Vol. 1, Post 33 (reprise, originally written in Summer 2014)

One look at my wardrobe and you’ll recognize that I’m not a trend setter, nor do I seem all that aware of current fashion.  And while I might not dazzle you with my new kicks or the finest threads, I strive to know what’s “trending” as far as sub-culture phenomenons.

So why will you find me at the Fermentation Festival this weekend? I’m fascinated by interest groups, hobbies, products, and movements: the artisan coffee roasters of Denver, the craft beer explosion across the country … the homegrown production of fermented food and drink. On a personal level, I definitely enjoy these products and the cultures that surround them. You’ll find me savoring a tasting tray of IPAs, waiting patiently for a pour-over coffee, or opening a jar of vinegary pickles most any day of the week. But on a professional level, I think we have a lot to learn from these trends by asking, and then exploring the answers, to a few key questions:

– Remembering our history, how did the ‘originators’ of this trend begin?

– If there’s always something that came before, what foundation did the originators build on?

– How are new businesses within the trend approaching the marketplace uniquely? Or are they simply repeating the originators?

– Are ideas being borrowed from other industries? Are paradigms and innovations being merged?

– What challenges are on the horizon?  What do the ‘originals’ and the trendy need to watch for?

There are of course a lot more questions that could be asked, but these might get us started. And the answers will allow us to critically examine our own field, and our role within that field. Such examination often leads to seeing the hidden challenge, or even better yet, that hidden opportunity, on the horizon. And guess what happens when you’re the first one to see beyond the horizon?