Finding Trends and Signals That Matter

by Team FIBRES | Jul 5, 2018

While working with weak signals and trends, does it sometimes feel like you are trying to find the needle in a haystack?

One of the key parts in working with foresight and a future related information is to make sense of it all. Mostly, what it means for your own business or given scenarios you have chosen to work with. It's not a problem to acquire the data or store it in data lakes and such, but the challenges come when trying to find those influential pieces of information from the mass. With vasts amounts of written data, it can be a painstaking job to figure out what piece of news may be affecting or should be linked to a given trend. Nowadays algorithms and technology can assist us and go way beyond just finding matching keywords or tags, they can suggest based on the written text which content could be related to one another, find the similarities or opposite arguments within the semantic context. It can all be very useful for horizon scanning and sense-making before diving deeper into the meaning of it all.

In this FIBRES tips, we show how you can discover and link trend related content together in a few clicks. In future, we are bringing even more intelligence "under the hood" to assist users working on their futures and strategy, more about that later though. (Psst. Don't have your own FIBRES yet...give it a try and sign-up here.)

Okey, what about that needle in a haystack?

Below are a few basic cases how to use FIBRES to find those new connections, but first a few basics:

  • 'Linking' is a way to visualise which trends or signals are "connected" together. (For example, a new long-lasting and recyclable battery could be a strengthening signal for a trend of ecological thinking.)
  • There are no limitations on which kind or what content can be linked together (signal cluster-signal cluster, or signal-trend for example).
  • 'Suggestions' is a tool that helps to find content with similar content, based on keywords in the tags, title and description.
  • 'Grouping' means that you can select existing content and group them together to form a new trend, signal cluster or workspace.

Find out what new is out there  - are there any signals of change that could be grouped together

This is typically used when evaluating new content on the platform, for example, to simply see what kinds of new observations and signals there could be that may form another trend. Maybe you wish to create a new signal cluster out of them for later sense-making and prepping a "deep-dive" session.

First, start out in 'Discovery'-section and choose a signal you wish to start working with. Click the "card" of the signal and you'll see a green check next to it. On the bottom of the screen, you'll see a choice 'Suggest Grouping', choose that and FIBRES will find and show suggestions that could be grouped together. Uncheck the signals that you don't need and carry on grouping the content, choose the type you wish to create (a signal cluster, trend or a workspace).

See a short video below.



Refine an existing trend and evaluate any new potential related signals or trends

In the same way, this is a good tool while you are preparing the content for further analysis or a "deep-dive" session. Open a specific content you wish to work with and scroll down to the spot where you see related content. Then choose 'Suggest Linkages' to see what kind of content there is that might be good for linking. Then simply verify, select the ones and save. Simple!

If suggestions are not what you want to use, just search for those what you wish to link by clicking 'Add or Remove Linkages' instead. You'll see a list of the latest content in the platform, but notice, these are not "suggestions as such". Once you found what you were looking for, just save and you're ready to discuss all the linkages with others!

Here is another short video below.



View all trends you have in FIBRES and what they are linked with

Trend Network is a visualisation that shows exactly that. View all the trends and signal clusters in your FIBRES and see also the underlying linkages formed by signals. This is something that can be used for discovering something completely new too. View the map and start asking questions, "which trends are most connected", "what are the trends that aren't linked to anything yet"? Spot a start of a new growing trend perhaps?

The map itself is for simply viewing purposes, so it is best used as a tool when visualising the big picture. Use filters to highlight the content that matters and follow that to the Trend Radar, where you can show the hand-picked trends and their estimated impact.



Are there any new changes that could affect the strategic target setting?

The suggestions work on the 'Roadmap' also. The principles are the same: simply use suggestions to see if there is something that is not been linked before but could be influential. An easy way to keep up-to-date with what insight your organization is building for strategic planning purposes.

Good to know

  • The suggestions that FIBRES highlights rely on what is available in your platform and what's written on each content: make sure there are adequate descriptions, a title and tags on the content you wish to work with. This way you'll get more out of the quality of the suggestions. A good way to do this is to ensure your process has a gate-step to evaluate all new content before doing any deeper analysis based on them.
  • What content type to choose when wanting to create new ones? It's up to you, signal clusters tend to be somewhat a middle point on clustering content together further to trends if you so like.
  • Change the type of the content, for example from signal cluster to a trend by opening the content and then click the text box saying 'signal', 'signal cluster' or 'trend'. Choose the new type and you're done!
  • User rights will, of course, play a factor in what you can actually do on the platform (for example, the read-only rights are just that: can't edit but can read and comment). Your own FIBRES administrator can change the roles when and if needed.

Other tips

  • The tool and software can support your futures planning, but they won't build the process by itself. Tools can support the sense-making and decision making done by people. Our partners can help and guide when it comes to the fine-tuning or setting up the process itself, from foresight to strategy execution.
  • Check our FAQ-page for other questions and answers.
  • Give us feedback! We would love to hear your what you may be missing or would like to see in FIBRES. The feedback link is always available via our platform, once you have logged in. Or you can always send us an email too!

Now, of course, could be a good moment to try the suggestions, check the visualizations and perhaps invite other colleagues to collaborate.


Until next time!

#foresight #strategicforesight #strategyplatform #fibresonline



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