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Six Tests for Testing Trends

by Randall Craig on March 3, 2017

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Planning, Strategy

Tagged as: ,

How often have you read a prediction, statement, or about a trend, and began to wonder if it were true?  Sadly, with so many instant experts, pundits, and self-serving gurus, it is sometimes difficult to tell fact from fiction. Here are six tests that can help you improve your signal-to-noise ratio:

A trend is defined to be a projection from a known state in the past, through a current known state in the present, to a likely state in the future.

  • Test 1:  Is there data to support the past and the present?  Is the data reliable, or is it either uncorroborated, or based on junk science? If a line of best fit is based on these types of faulty data, then it won’t be a line of best fit, and the future state might be elsewhere.
  • Test 2:  Are the factors in the past that led to the present, the same as the factors in the present that might lead to the future?  If there have been any paradigm shifts or market disruptions, then the prediction will be off. (Think of the disruption in the music industry: Record players to CD players to iPods to streaming music.)

Examine the experience of the person making the predictions.  Journalists are smart, but they are not practitioners.  Academics are smart, but they don’t usually live in industry.  Consultants are smart, but they may have a very narrow knowledge base.

  • Test 3:  Where does the knowledge that underlies the statement come from?  Their background should include research, real-world experience, and broad industry knowledge.

Examine the motivations of the person making the predictions.  A fashion company, for example, might be motivated to share “trends” that are suspiciously in sync with what they are producing for the next season.

  • Test 4:  What does the predictor stand to gain if their trend prediction turns out to be true?  Are they biased?  (Counterpoint:  Just because there may be bias, doesn’t necessarily mean that their prediction is wrong: they may be precisely in the best position to make the statement.)

For better or worse, the benefit of Google and social media is that a person’s (and organization’s) entire history is available for review.  There is no way to hide history.

  • Test 5:  Notwithstanding the previous four tests, how good is their track record?  If they have accurately called the trends many times in the past, their current predictions may also be right.

Some trends really don’t matter – or at least don’t matter to you.

  • Test 6:  This is the so what test.  Determine what the implications are for you and your organization, both if the prediction were true, and if it were incorrect.  How would you change your plans and your actions?  If you needn’t make a change either way, then the trend is irrelevant.

This week’s action plan:  Like trend analysis, scenario planning is a powerful strategic planning concept.  Here’s how it works: first envision several alternative futures for your organization, and then create a straw-dog plan to take advantage of each.  How to discover the different scenarios? Look for trends, predictions, and future-oriented statements, then filter them using the six tests.

Marketing insight:  The so what test is clearly the most important, and should be applied first.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


14 key digital planning reads for 2017

by Randall Craig on December 30, 2016

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Planning, Strategy

Tagged as:

Do you have a pile of reading, perhaps sitting at the corner of your desk?  Clippings that seem particularly important that you would get to “at some point”?  Or perhaps, a digital version kept safely in an obscure folder, just waiting for you to find the time to read?

These clippings are particularly important, as they provide perspective that can influence all of your decisions going forward… so long as you actually get to them.  In this spirit, here are some of the most important digital reads from my pile:

  1. On building an elearning program:
  2. On building a thinking organization:
  3. On the challenges with Software-as-a-Service:
  4. On avoiding disastrous IT projects: (part 1) (part 2)
  5. On the impact of virtual reality and augmented reality:
  6. On market research (and knowing your target audience):
  7. On rebranding:
  8. On the digital future:

This week’s action item:  Invest in perspective – read a few of the articles from my digital parking lot.Then pass this list to a colleague, to begin the conversation on what it means to your organization.  (And if you only have time to read one, my vote is to read the article on Virtual Reality.)

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


Avoiding tech project failures (2)

by Randall Craig July 1, 2016

Have you ever had a problem – or a disastrous – project in your organization?  When this happens, it is often “clear” that the problem is with the consultants hired to help, and sadly, this is often true. But is some of the fault also with your organization?  While a previous post looked at issues from an […]

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Avoiding tech project failures

by Randall Craig June 10, 2016

Has your organization invested in a “game-changing” software project, only to discover that the promised benefits never really materialize?  Or that the implementation was so flawed that the system is regarded as a financial and operating disaster? Sadly, this happens far more than it should… but must this always be the case?  Here are five […]

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Marketing Insight: Improving Web ROI

by Randall Craig April 25, 2013

Does this sound familiar?  You have a website (or two), a marketing budget, and more than likely, a desire to grow.  It doesn’t matter if growth is defined as more event registrations, newsletter sign-ups, leads, or transactions – the problem is that too often, a web initiative doesn’t always pull its weight. There are four […]

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Social Media Measurement (Part Two)

by Randall Craig September 14, 2012

Over the last year (or three), how much time have you spent Linking In, Tweeting, Facebooking, Blogging, and using other social tools?  If you are like most, getting a return on your time investment probably has crossed your mind:  Is Social Media actually paying off?  Is it worth the effort? To answer this question, many […]

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Social Media Measurement

by Randall Craig April 12, 2012

How do you know if you are successful at Social Media?  While the answer a few years ago may have been it’s so experimental, we’ll have to see, the answer from some today is similarly dissatisfying:  Social Media ROI is comparable to computing the ROI of a telephone. We can do better than this – […]

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Management and Measurement

by Randall Craig March 30, 2011

When the economy is tight, most organizations face a financial call-to-action: tighten your belts, manage costs, and cut-cut-cut. This seems reasonable – financial management will rationalize that revenues no longer support a “higher” level of expenditure, so either sales must increase, or expenses must cut. But how are these cuts determined?  Too often, it is […]

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Viewpoint: Will Facebook Take Over the World?

by Randall Craig March 17, 2011

You may not know it, but the game playing, ad-serving, stalker-friendly site called Facebook is poised to bust out of it’s walled garden and move into the “real world” in a very big way. And when it does, it will have profound implications for government, other businesses, and each of us as individuals. Unless you […]

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No Social Media Dial Tone

by Randall Craig February 17, 2011

For many of us, Social Media has become ubiquitous: we couldn’t imagine a day without Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube. For many companies, Social Media is at the core of their strategies. But what if the plug was pulled? What if the government, or a technical disaster, caused a shutdown that lasted a week – […]

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Reverse Engineering

by Randall Craig September 21, 2010

How often have you admired someone else’s accomplishments, and said to yourself, “I wish I could do that!”. Or when faced with a daunting goal, are not sure where to start? Conventional wisdom suggests that you start at the beginning, and take small, easily accomplished steps. Doing so moves you closer to your goals, and […]

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Squeezing the Negative

by Randall Craig September 15, 2009

Have you ever been in a situation with your team when you’re trying to figure out how to get everything just right? As problem solvers our attention quickly focuses on what is wrong: if these deficiencies could be removed, then everything would be perfect. Processes would be efficient. Frustration would be reduced. And customers would […]

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Career Performance

by Randall Craig July 21, 2009

What do Stevie Wonder, Leonard Cohen, and Elton John all have in common? They are all musicians, all internationally famous, and they have all been writing music and performing for decades. But what accounts for their success? They had great teachers and mentors. They practiced their scales and rehearsed their music, and got very good […]

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by Randall Craig February 9, 2009

Recently, Barack Obama was “inaugurated” as President of the USA. There are many things that we can do, prior to starting something new, that will increase our chance of success, even if we don’t have a budget of $150 million-plus for the effort. We can work on expectations, preparations, and celebrations: Set Expectations: Remember that […]

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Barack Obama: The ultimate job search

by Randall Craig November 5, 2008

Ten Career Planning Tips that we can learn from Barack Obama (and John McCain) Now that the dust has settled with the American Presidential election, all of the pundits can begin prognosticating on how Obama will do once he’s on the job. For those in the midst of a job search, however, attention must return […]

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One Step

by Randall Craig September 30, 2008

Ask any mountain climber – the surest way to the top of the peak is a very simple recipe: put one foot in front of the other. And then do it again. This very simple formula is no different for those looking in advancing their career (or their personal) success. Education: Most of us forget […]

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What do I want to be known for?

by Randall Craig September 23, 2008

If you’re like most people, you’d much prefer to write your resume than your obituary. Resumes help you get that promotion or new job, while obituaries are relatively… final. Nevertheless, writing your own obituary is a great exercise: it helps you define how you will be remembered by your colleagues, friends, and family. At work, […]

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Urgent vs. Important

by Randall Craig September 16, 2008

We are a society looking for instant gratification. When a customer calls, we rush to meet their needs. When we check into a hotel, we expect prompt, courteous service. When we drive our cars, we always take the shortest routes – at the fastest speeds. And when we do a great job, we want to […]

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Back to School Lessons

by Randall Craig August 19, 2008

Why is it that retailers have back-to-school sales starting in August? They know that clothing purchases are made in the 3-4 weeks immediately before the first day of school. (They also know that few customers will purchase clothing a mere day or two beforehand.) Stores make their buying decisions months in advance. Manufacturers make their […]

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Summer Vacation

by Randall Craig July 15, 2008

The month of July is special, as it is the month when many people traditionally take their vacations. But it is special for another reason as well: it is the half-way point of the year. And while we might prefer to be sipping lemonade at the beach, it is a useful time to look at […]

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