The View is Better from the Edge

  • James H. Lee

A few years ago, sci-fi author William Gibson famously commented in a radio interview that “The future is already here, it just isn’t very evenly distributed.”  This suggests that the future can be tracked and (sometimes) found.

Some have lost their reputation, even their sanity, in pursuit of this elusive beast.

Trend hunting would be altogether much easier if only you knew where the future wants to live.  It might simply be question of finding the right habitat.

In his book, The Medici Effect, Frans Johansson explores where creativity and innovation is most frequently found.  Johansson writes that innovation wants to live at the edge of things.  More specifically, innovation thrives at the intersection of cultures and  geographies.   This explains why the U.S., with its melting pot of immigrants, has such a dynamic culture.  Also, why coastal cities — such as Boston, New York, and San Francisco, tend to attract the best and the brightest.

Johansson also shows that the most interesting and accessible intersection might be at the edge of academic or scientific disciplines, where concepts are allowed to “clash and combine, ultimately forming a multitude of new, groundbreaking ideas.”

Charles Darwin was geologist when he stumbled upon the theory of evolution.  It took an astronomer to explain the extinction of the dinosaurs.   Similarly, Clay Christensen notes in The Innovator’s Dilemma  that disruptive change often comes from outsiders.

Biomimicry has been credited with the aerodynamic shape of the Toyota Prius, which is modeled after the shape of the box fish.  Neurofinance has been a hot area of study for several years now – it goes a long way towards explaining why human behaviors and heuristics create market inefficiencies.

StratFI can be found at the intersection of strategic foresight and investing.  We offer a new perspective, keeping in mind that “the view is better from the edge.”  In coming articles,  we’ll go big-game hunting for some of the dominant investment themes of the next decade.    Meanwhile, I’ll share some of my own favorite “hunting grounds” for new trends — follow the link here to the resources section of our website.