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Check Trends to See If They Are Fads or Long-Lasting Directions

Mar 19, 2008
Would you Like a Hula Hoop? Can I pay you to take it?

The cyclic nature of trends is also evident in fads involving consumer and industrial goods and services. Usually engaged in by people who want to stand out from the crowd, fads are then reported by the popular press and quickly picked up by those who want to be "in with the 'in' crowd."

Increasing popularity eventually turns the fad into the new conformity, and those who don't want to be conformists lose interest and move on to the next novelty. Eventually only the most rigorous of conformists are left with the original fad, which by then is no longer a fad.

Sales quickly drop at that point. Few will profit from being able to benefit from capturing the benefits of fad after fad, because their sources and timing vary so much. Watch out when you think you may be relying extensively on faddish irresistible forces.

For example, it's not unusual for some new piece of software to be hailed as a great advance that everyone will have to use. IBM's OS/2 operating system for personal computers had that reputation in the 1980s when most people were buying Microsoft's DOS system. Then, Microsoft coupled DOS with Windows and suddenly few wanted OS/2.

Another fad that's come and gone is to have encounter groups as a way of improving business communications. In the 1970s, many executives report being required to sit in circles on the floor while holding hands with their peers, and then exploring embarrassing personal experiences and attitudes with the group. Some people were so humiliated by the experience that they quit their jobs rather than continue with this "public therapy in the workplace" process.

Lawyers used to tell you that they had really arrived when the Dictaphone salesman taught them how to dictate materials, later to be transcribed by the typing pools and secretaries in their law firms. The newly-minted lawyer could imagine whole armies of typists waiting breathlessly for the lawyer's deathless prose.

Now, most lawyers either type their own documents or use computer-generated materials as the base for the documents that used to be dictated. Very little dictation occurs any more, and those typing pools often don't exist.

Fads can be great if you understand that they are just that, but can be disastrous if you don't. Consider a property developer who rented her buildings to a company that was producing the latest fad toy item. When the fad passed, she soon had a bankrupt tenant and a difficult situation on her hands. Neither she nor the tenant had foreseen that the toy was going to be a fad item. She had inadvertently added fad risk to the normal risk of interest rates and excess debt.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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