room44 innovates

room44 takes a sideways look at non-obvious trends currently developing and asks; who does this affect?

Chapter 1: Challenging questions:

  • Politics in the UK.
  • Cladding and negative equity.
  • Interested party pacts.

Listening and watching news in June 2021 it feels as if life is good.

The UK is emerging from a year of COVID-19 lockdown, the summer is coming, pubs and restaurants are re-opening, the Conservatives have just had a landslide victory in local elections, with the implication that consistency at the top is what the UK wants. In the UK, at least, if we believe the news media COVID-19 might be a manageable problem.

Hooray, let’s go to the pub… and most of us did.

Then the hangover happened and with the cold light of day questions emerged.

To be honest, what you’re about to read is snapshot of what I’ve read, heard and seen since the euphoria of meeting people socially – and maybe you can help me join some dots together.

Politics in the UK.

The UK is one party state.

The UK is gradually regressing into its constituent parts. When Scotland votes to leave the union it’ll only take Cornwall and Yorkshire to declare independence for the everyone here to need a passport to drive from one end to the other.

Objectively, while the majority of the UK, apparently, all vote for the same political party, the place is pulling itself apart which seems a bit contrary to reason.

As a competent alternative to conservative rule, the Labour party has spent more than enough time kicking itself to death and has given us with great example of a brand failing to change with its audience. Becoming less relevant, they entered the last general and local elections without realising that ‘Labour’ is a moniker rooted in a forgotten era of industry and collective bargaining. Those days have gone and the red flag flies now over people who don’t remember what it meant.

Will Labour do the work needed to reinstate itself as a serious government candidate before the next election (and probably the one after that too)? No. Of course it won’t and so the electorate can look forward to an uncontested parliament for another decade.

With best will in the world, for Greens, Liberals or anyone else to make a serious dent in the UK Tory power base, something fundamental has to change. The signs are that they won’t despite the massive vote-winning assistance potentially offered by the biggest and most obvious crisis ever to emerge across the world – global climate change.

Cladding and negative equity.

We live in an odd period of history for all kinds of reasons. There’s always one reason or another but this particular moment in time has us sliding towards more central control, less freedom of movement, more censorship, less liberty…

Part of the conditioning that we in the UK are subject to is that home ownership is the pinnacle of achievement.

If you’ve never done this, try applying for credit and tick the ‘not a home-owner’ box and see what happens. If you want to know what it feels like to be treated like a second-class citizen this is a good way to start.

So keen are we to own property that some of us opt to buy a lease. Today, what happens when that property is found to be a serious threat to your life, because the structure of the place is significantly flammable, is a travesty.

You may need to research this but here are the bones of the issue. In the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster it has been found that many properties of the same kind are at the same risk of fire.

Understandably, until the guilty cladding is replaced these properties have little or no value on the property market.

It’s a complicated area of law but the bottom line (in my mind) is that freeholders appear to be able to pass the cost of refurbishment on to leaseholders which, in most cases, far exceeds the leaseholders’ ability to pay.

So, despite buying a lease in good faith that the home is safe and fit for purpose, it transpires that when it is found not to be, the purchaser is liable. Caveat emptor to say the least and stalemate.

It isn’t the first time the ‘little guy’ gets the rough end of the stick or that politicking is used to wiggle out of paying for mistakes made in the past. Unfortunately, in a period when the country has to stay at home through an imposed lockdown, those people who already felt unsafe, also have this extra concern for their personal safety.

Threats to van life.

In a property market that already excludes a huge tranche of people, young and older, in the UK because of the consistent rise in house values well beyond inflation rates; and in the face of doubts over the safety of some more affordable options, people are turning to alternative living arrangements.

There’s a real buzz around tiny living and van life, at the moment. It sounds romantic – and can be, but there’s a threat to this non-conformist trend that needs understanding.

To want to live in a van takes some level of dissatisfaction with traditional arrangements – or an inability to be able to afford rents or mortgages – or a rejection of the price of doing so. I’ve got a mortgage and sometimes I wonder if it’s a good decision to keep it going.

Some say that when everything is counted, the capital gain from owning a house over the life of a mortgage do much more than match the outlay. Anyhow, If you live in a van and enjoy that way of life, good luck to you.

However, our conditioning is so strong that when a van parks up on your street there’s a temptation to be wary. The Lady in the Van movie made suburbanites wonder what they’d do in that situation and regular press coverage of alleged traveller misdemeanours could be behind another governmental move to restrict the liberty of an ‘alternative’ lifestyle.

A bill has been in development and on Tuesday 16th March, 2021 the UK government held the second vote in parliament for the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill*.

MP’s voted in favour by a majority, and the bill now goes to the committee stage, followed by the House of Lords before it becomes enshrined in law.

What is it?

This law enhances the Police’s power to confiscate the property of, particularly, van dwellers if they suspect that the occupiers may commit a crime in the future. The confiscated property can be kept for an indeterminate period.

So, we have a government supporting the removal of homes from people who have no other shelter, on the basis of nothing more than a potential complaint from another citizen and/or the suspicion that they may commit a crime someday.

Add this new law to existing wide-ranging surveillance, number plate recognition, banking and insurance monitoring networks and, even before facial recognition really finds its feet in the UK and we have a serious and insidious control of our civil liberty building in the background.

As a user base we’ve already given up our personal data to our mobile phone networks and we know our online footprints are regularly monitored so, it’s no real wonder that some of us are trying to find a bit of off-line space to live in.

News media and party pacts.

If you read and consume the same media as I do, we’ll probably have a similar view of the world. If you don’t, we won’t.

This is the reason I founded room44; to offer company teams different views of markets and market influences  to reveal opportunities, not otherwise apparent.

It has always been the responsibility of the individual to search out your truth. You can doi this by consuming content from different media outlets that have different biases: political, commercial, cause or whatever.

So, a supposedly unbiased and independent media outlet is a good thing to know about.

Here, in the UK, it is widely believed that the BBC is that body but…

Where some stories get coverage, less headline-worthy items such as Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would, seem to get less. Personally, I can’t remember ever seeing it mentioned and I, for one, wonder why?

Media has always been available to support any specific idea/notion/belief and today is no different – except the number of outlets is huge, making it easier than ever to find validation of any and every idea with a few clicks on a keypad.

Consequently, people in business can avoid reading the other side of the argument with zero effort and so, a balanced opinion becomes less easy to arrive at.

The unofficial contract that is said to exist between the establishment and media outlets controls what is published on a daily basis. Media briefings have the effect of pushing content creators in specific directions. Effectively, this controls what news we are fed every morning.

While social platforms have made it easier to avoid only seeing propaganda published by ‘interested parties’, the establishment has got better at managing the news agenda which can be seen in action every day with the focus swinging from more contentious issues to more palatable ones without much logic.

So what?

Taking a consumer view of the factors, such as those described above, and making connections between them can be useful in informing your product strategy.

For example, consumers buying vans for conversion, camping equipment, hardware and conversion services, solar panels etc all buy their products from someone.

Camping space that closes for the winter are seeing year-round demand.

The companies that sell these products may want to look at the potential for the impact of new laws to affect what they sell and who they sell to.

It bears some monitoring. To be continued.

Future thinking. Future proofing. It’s what we do.

* Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

  • The Bill contains enhanced police powers to deal with public order and wider offences and increased sentences for breaching conditions imposed on assemblies and processions by the police. These proposals have significant implications for the right to protest, an aspect of the rights to free speech and free assembly.
  • The Bill contains a new offence targeted at persons residing on land without permission, coupled with powers to seize property. These have implications for the right to respect for the home and the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions, of both the landowner and the resident, and may have a disproportionate impact on particular ethnic groups.
  • The right to respect for private life is engaged by the Bill’s proposed power to extract information from electronic devices.
  • The Bill also proposes a number of changes to sentencing, including extending the use of ‘whole life orders’ and altering sentencing for children and young people, with ramifications for the right to liberty and the rights of victims. Changes to community sentences also give rise to concerns about respect for private life and the home.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]room44’s data-driven approach reveals hidden trends and new opportunities to help you create high-performing, sustainable product strategies. The result? A strategic vision that is actionable in the short, medium and longer term – increasing revenue, promoting growth and encouraging brand tenacity.[/author_info] [/author]

Expo 2020 posed 50 questions that were relevant when the organisers were planning the event.

Since then, Expo 2020 has been postponed by a year and many of the known knowns have become irrelevant or accelerated.

Take a look at the attached list of 50 questions (faithfully reproduced from the original) and consider how your perception of the world, viewed at the macro level, has altered in one short year.

This is the kind of stimulus that room44 uses in our scenario planning activities. After all, if you don’t know how your environment will change, how can you know how to fit into it?

Let’s discuss. Make a date here.

Future thinking. Future proofing. It’s what we do.

Expo 2020 50 questions

Dear ‘January Tristan’,

‘July Tristan’ here. I thought it may be useful to send you a few lines from your future to let you know what to expect and, perhaps, to help you plan for the next few months.

Everything changes

Above all, there is one thing you need to know about 2020: it will change everything you thought you knew about the world you live in. 

Over Christmas, you read about reports of a new mystery virus in China. You’re not affected by this now, but you will be. You will find this impossible to imagine, but world travel will be shut down to try and contain this virus. You will be confined to your house; schools will close (most kids won’t go back until September); shops, restaurants and pubs will be shuttered; and normal life will pause for weeks on end (I told you you’d find it hard to comprehend).

Simple stuff like shopping will become really complicated because of the shortage of many products after initial panic buying. The press will whip up hysteria and add fuel to the flames.

It’s July now and this virus has killed more than 40,000 people in the UK alone. You should consider how you will keep your family safe. I’d suggest you make a modest stock of essentials – oh, and supplement with Vitamin C, D and Xanthohumol. It might be an idea to get a decent probiotic. They say the condition of your gut biome makes a difference to your recovery if you ever pick up the disease.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Your business must be in good shape and has to be accessible in a different way too. Forget face-to-face meetings (yes, really). Get used to the idea that your clients will need to get value from your work without the opportunity to meet and discuss, unless it’s via a computer link.

This is working out great for some people and not so well for others. Many desk workers have relocated to their spare bedrooms or kitchen tables. For those who happen to be working on projects involving Europe, the US and Asia, there have now been four months of extremely long days. Some businesses have prospered, but many, many others have ceased to exist. Look up the word ‘furlough’ – you’ll hear that used more than you ever have before.

You’ll have to get used to no-one being allowed to work in or visit cinemas, restaurants and bars. They’re only just opening up again now. Your contact with other human beings is limited beyond belief. Universities are silent, offices deserted, factories on reduced shifts, car parks empty…

Cycling upswing

There’s been a huge upswing in cycling, and train and bus passengers are sparse. In fact, all the efforts to reduce traffic pollution in cities have accelerated, because bikes, eBikes and e-scooters are being taken seriously as alternatives.

One more thing – you’ll spend an inordinate amount of time considering what design of face mask doesn’t make your glasses steam up, and how many you need to buy. You’ll be wearing these for a long time. Disposable gloves too. And if you thought you kept your hands clean before…


Here in July, we’ve arrived at what the media is calling ‘post-lockdown’, but which still feels like lockdown to many. We still can’t travel as you do now and, although we’re allowed out for the evening, many people remain nervous of going into pubs and eateries.

Invest and get a haircut

If you’ve been saving up for something, buy it now. Spending’s going to be more difficult and the novelty of online shopping (except for groceries) may at last wear off. No-one will want your cash – inert surfaces carry the virus and we’re all keen to avoid it – so cards only, please. Buy a lot of hand sanitiser – or invest in a company that makes it.

By the way, make sure you get a haircut before the 23rd March – or buy some clippers. 

This is just the start of the way our world changes in twenty-six weeks.


Through all this, some people have welcomed the time to pause and rethink their values. Some countries are still seeing a rise in virus cases and deaths, others have plateaued but are planning for a second wave of infection and ramping up plans for a grim winter. Whether you call it considerate behaviour or a bid for self-preservation, keeping away from other people has become the new normal.

Though you may see this as a positive, Brexit has all but vanished from the news. More worryingly, climate change has also slipped down the news agenda, but is of course still moving apace. Latest estimates predict we’ll have seen the last polar bear by the end of the century.

Change before you have to

What I have seen in the last six months would have seemed impossible in January. Your plans for the next couple of years may still play out, but what I can say with certainty is that you must have more than one plan. Flexibility, agility and the ability to diversify are more vital than ever…as those without plans, or any openness to change, are already discovering to their cost. As the saying goes ‘change before you have to’.

Cheers mate. And as we all now say, stay safe.

‘July Tristan’

Future thinking. Future proofing. It’s what we do.

If you feel that the chasmic changes we’re all experiencing will affect your relationship with your customers, now is the time to work on that issue. The future will take care of itself and you need to take care of you.

What surprises our clients is how room44 pays attention to the detail they often take for granted. We do our best to unpick the connection between the business and what its customers will want. It may be that there isn’t a massive gap between the two, but it takes a new attitude to see a new opportunity. 


The work you’re doing now is what was on your to-do list yesterday.

This is your future, twenty-four hours on.

Always certain. Often wrong.

Looking at the next twenty-four hours, the probability is that there’s nothing major in your plan. Look back two or three weeks and everything has slipped; whatever we thought April looked like, it hasn’t worked out that way.

My forecaster friend comes to mind again. His favourite response to the question ‘how often do you get it right?’ is ‘I’m always certain and often wrong.’ And that’s the problem with prediction. It’s just not a science.

How do we formulate a plan?

So, accepting that we aren’t in full control of everything, how do we formulate a plan?

Read any room44 blog and you’ll see we focus on the end-user of your product or service, and the trends that are readable in their behaviours. It’s called Design Thinking, or Human- Centred Design. What it means is that we look at the need your customer has, and we work out how to meet it. We don’t try to shoehorn your product into their lives.

It’s always easier to see another person’s problem from an external perspective, and you need to apply the same objectivity to recognise your customers’ future needs before they can.

What surprises our clients?

What surprises our clients is how we pay attention to the detail they often take for granted. We do our best to unpick the connection between the business and what the customer will want. It may be that there isn’t a massive gap between the two, but it takes a new attitude to see a new opportunity.

If you feel that the chasmic changes we’re all experiencing will affect your relationship with your customers, now is the time to work on that issue. Design Thinking is our way of doing it and can be yours too. The future will take care of itself and you need to take care of you.

Talk to us. 

Click through to our ‘contact‘ No obligation. No fee.

Future thinking and future proofing is what we do.

For many businesses, Q4 may be the next best time to launch an innovation, internally or externally. But now is the best time to focus on what comes next.

For millions of people sent home from the workplace, the COVID-19 crisis might be providing their first experience of working in a physically isolated space. For others, it’s business as usual. While media threads suggest that working from home lifts some of the pressure and makes life easier, many of us are working flat out – not only coping with the uncertainty around business contracts and trying to ensure we deliver on promise, but also managing around those business enablers we took for granted – like the post office and stationery suppliers.


Despite all this, it’s more critical than ever, in this unusual time, that we don’t miss the opportunity to plan ahead. If now is all about keeping things going, Q4 may be the next best time to make a significant leap and to plan what comes next.

On current signals, it looks like mass gatherings may be part of the landscape again around October. It may have been speculative, but the London Marathon and several festivals have plumped for this revised timing.

We’re probably all looking at a long summer of working, and playing, from home. At room44, we’re continuing to watch how trends are developing, and where the land lies on the things that were important before everything changed. Here are a few random readings:

Bush fires et al

Remember the Australian bush fires? They’re still burning, despite COVID-19. Recent swings in weather patterns have slackened their spread, but they’re still blazing across the country. Environmentally, the reduction in travel has begun to benefit our environment but mega trends are still hurting. The Amazon is still being deforested and plastic waste hasn’t gone away. Popular media may have taken its eye off the environmental ball – you shouldn’t, as you plan ahead. The part your business plays in that context will come back to the top of the agenda.


Remember that? It’s still a job to get done and, according to the UK Prime Minister in one of his early COVID-19 press conferences, it will still be done by the end of the year. Will it be a ‘hard’ exit? Is anyone watching?

Consumer goods

Amid the crush of the national craving for toilet rolls, Britons did not cover themselves in glory by adopting an ‘everyone for themselves’ attitude, stripping shelves before key workers could even finish their shifts. Department stores are reported to have had a run on sales of fridge-freezers so, logically, many people should be able to feed themselves for weeks if restriction on movement freezes. But what does this lead to? Huge spikes in demand during periods of shortage result in the supply chain becoming bloated. Later, as demand levels out and over-capacity leads to a glut, will prices fall? If petrol and diesel are a measure of this the answer is, yes. If you haven’t filled your car for a week or so, the price of a litre may surprise you.

Digital tech

Predicting demand patterns and behavioural trends has been an important skill as health experts model the spread of COVID-19. Traffic monitors and street cameras tell the authorities where and when people are moving. From China, there have been reports of facial recognition being used to identify persistent curfew breakers.

Combine this data with algorithm development and it becomes possible to predict where outbreaks will occur, supporting the call, from some quarters, to increase surveillance across countries.

Watch this trend. Some countries are using mobile phone tracking of its citizens to anticipate outbreaks of COVID-19 and enforce ‘stay at home’ Hefty fines (@$7,000) have been reported for non-compliance of social distancing rules and with second spikes and re-infection being discussed, these measures look set to stick around.

…and VR?

The use of digital technology to help communities stay in touch has become a part of normal life across all age groups. While gaming and eSports may take a step forward if we are isolated for long periods, the signs are that most people still see everyday personal contact as more important than virtual environments. That’s not to say that VR doesn’t have its place, but here’s an extract from Ray Bradbury’s 1957 novel Dandelion Wine that paints a picture.

And then, inside the Happiness Machine, Lena Hoffman began to weep.

The inventor’s smile faded…

There his wife sat, tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Oh, it’s the saddest thing in the world”, she wailed. “I feel awful, terrible.”

She climbed out through the door.

“First it was Paris.”

“What’s wrong with Paris?”

“I never thought about being in Paris in my life. But now you got me thinking, Paris! So, suddenly I wanted to be in Paris and I know I’m not.”

“It’s almost as good, this machine.”

“…Leo, the mistake you made is you forgot that some hour, some day we all got to climb out of that thing and go back to dirty dishes and the beds not made.

While you’re in that thing, sure, a sunset lasts for ever, the air smells good, the temperature is fine. All the things you want to last, last.

But outside the children wait on lunch, the clothes need buttons and let’s be frank Leo, how long can you look at a sunset?”

After COVID-19, the new ‘normal’ we adjust to will likely be quite different from how things were before. All the more reason to start planning for what comes next, don’t you think? Now is the best time to focus on what comes next.

Future thinking. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

Not being able to anticipate change is a common problem in companies where financial and sales targets rule.
It’s really easy for the CFO to kill an idea, a conjecture or to argue a trend because the data won’t support a forecast. It can’t. Data is historical. But that’s why the CFO doesn’t work in New Product Development or Innovation.

Convert your CFO from an Analyst to a Visionary

You can help them with this. Ask them what they’ve learnt anytime in the last five years. What they do differently now that they didn’t do in 2015/ 16/ 17.

Remind them of the new piece of ‘efficiency’ software they invested in, of the new reporting system (Xero, Sage…), of the project management platform (Trello, Slack, Asana…) or of the savings that come from a Lean initiative.

All of these ideas were new, untried, unproven and a risk, once. Now they’re normal, standard, common practise.

You’ve got a fuzzy front end

Looking back we have absolute clarity. Looking forward, it’s harder for us all to see the same opportunity. The future is a bit fuzzy. The answer is to know what you will be doing because you have applied a process that uses logic, creativity, analysis and imagination.

room44 has a test for this. It’s called our CRiTT Test. We compare ideas across four metrics and the ratings make it obvious which ones can be delivered now, next and later.

Instant ROI from an innovation project that can be run in a day.

Let’s have a chat about how this can be a part of your plan for 2019/20. Book time here or e-mail me on

[button link=”” type=”big” color=”red”] Innovation concept test[/button]

For more on this subject, read this blog called What is the life expectancy of your company?

To stay relevant to your customers over the next couple of years you’ll need to be aware of mega trends: the very biggest macro factors.

Mega trends are those irreversible, slow-to-grow changes that we tend not to recognise as quickly as we might. It’s a bit like seeing a child (puppy, kitten) after a period of time: you notice their growth much more than if you see them every day.

Who do mega trends affect?

Mega trends affect us all. They offer opportunity and threat to business in equal measure. The opportunities presented by mega trends are visible to companies who actively look for ideas to grow. The threats that mega trends present are also clear to companies looking for ideas to grow. The message is this – if you’re not looking at trends, you aren’t seeing either growth opportunity or risk of disruption.

Here in the UK many brands, especially SMEs, are wrapped up in Brexit, and it’s become really easy not to look too far into the future. While Brexit is definitely a macro factor, it’s also been difficult to plan for.

True mega trends are usually easier to read than Brexit, and definitely more likely to open up an opportunity. These are some mega trends you might like to take a look at…

The sharing economy – this may be a hard one to get to grips with if you sell consumer products. As things are developing, your newest customers are making fewer capital purchases – but there are two sides to this.

If you sell sofas, you can rent out sofas. If you sell bikes, hire out bikes. The transition to a subscription model is not hard unless you just don’t see the need.

Personal Mobility – while governments around the world are pumping billions into the electrification of cars, there is an undercurrent of radical change that still has a long way to go.

Not only are cars and other vehicles subject to changes in fuel systems, with all the knock-on impact that will have on the automotive supply chain, but even this emerging market is under pressure from the sharing economy. This trend is going to run and run, and electricity won’t be the only fuel solution explored. This blog talks about this more:

Emotional intelligence – Human Resource departments are great at building systems to recruit team members who ‘fit’ with each other.

They have known for decades that IQ isn’t the only measure of probable effectiveness. Emotional Quotient (EQ) is now better understood and it’s being managed and exploited. EQ describes the way you monitor your emotions and the emotions of your colleagues, as well as how customers react in response to your brand messages. EQ extends through your recruitment, staff management and how you are able to manage consumer loyalty.

To build a sustainable brand position, your launch planning must be part of the innovation process and persona development at the earliest possible time.

The room44 Innovation Process takes EQ into account. Let’s talk about this complex part of your plan. You can book some time here to talk.

Ages of population – here’s how the ages of the various generations are described.

Your customer personas need to anticipate how the ages of your shoppers are shifting. It’s thought that 75% of the workforce in 2025 could be Millennials.

People who sit in Gen Z and Alpha will live well beyond 100 and have plenty of time for several discrete careers. What does this mean? Well, one theory is that Gen Zs are already approaching an age when their first business sectors are changing enough that they need to retrain.

Law – the legal systems we abide by have been developed over hundreds of years. Prevailing laws are the compound product of ideas and reactions to societal developments that have taken place over time.

History tells us that legislators are slow to evolve laws to meet a new situation, and yet the forecasted rate of change in many areas of our lives means that the legal system must accelerate to keep up. Laws rely on precedent to direct us, but technology is applying pressure here. Financial management, online business, digital fraud, autonomous vehicles, geographic and geo-fenced boundaries, artificial and human intelligence are a few examples of the areas where the law is evolving, but may need to anticipate what’s coming rather than react to what has happened.

These mega trends are just some of those that sit on the horizon. They’re already in play and will cascade to affect your customers’ choices, your brand positioning and your relationship with your buyers.

room44 watches trends, builds systems for our clients to watch for themselves and trains teams to innovate by being aware and informed about the way their markets are changing – before the change arrives.

 We can help with that. Call us to find out more: +44 208 144 9800 or click through to see how our outside insight service works. Don’t worry, there isn’t another form to fill in.

outside insight

Future thinking. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

Faced with a journey, you’ve got choices: plan the route or start walking (driving, cycling – whatever you choose).

Planning feels logical. Get the map out, plug coordinates into a sat nav and see how long it takes. Your route to a final destination, plotted via a set of well-worn pathways.

The expected outcome is clear.




So, what about the journey to a new destination that hasn’t been visited before, by anyone, ever?



Things aren’t as clear now. It’s harder to know how to get there. You might not even be sure where ‘there’ is. How do you take the first step?

This is the problem that an innovation process tackles.

Now we’re talking about a different set of variables: who is your target customer and what will they be struggling with at the end of your product development process? With technology and competition developing at current rates, you can’t assume that today’s customer will be the same in six months’ time.


This is why we look at time horizons and consider new trends – not data. Data is historical. Trends are emerging. There’s a major difference in their usefulness when it comes to plotting your customer need as it will develop – not as it did.

Think of it like this: over the course of, say, five years, lots of products will fade from the market. Trends like electric vehicles are growing. Consequently, the bits and bobs that sit under the bonnet of your family saloon won’t be needed in the numbers they are today. Stuff like carburettors, exhaust pipes and so on.

and place

If you make carburettors or exhaust pipes, you have time to develop a new strategy – but not much. Deciding what you’ll do when exhaust pipes aren’t needed; raising finance; buying and receiving new machines; becoming a player in a new product segment…all these things take time.

A five-year window isn’t very big at all, and by the time you make it to market with a new idea that meets a need today, that need will have moved on.


This quote from the World Economic Forum says it all

  1. The right strategic vision is critical– in addition to anticipating what your customers are going to want, you need to define the depth and scope of the changes and redesign your internal processes and broader ecosystem.
  2. Execution is the hardest part of transformation– more than half of all companies undertaking transformation will fail to achieve their desired outcomes. One of the most common stumbling blocks is underestimating the operating model refinements that will be required across the organisation.
  3. Beware leaders who are clinging to past or current successes – this is the hypnotic siren song of the status quo. Transformation needs to be a continuous, never-ending process rather than a distinct ‘event’.

The article’s called “What is the life expectancy of your company?” It’s a good question.

room44 has a process for helping you succeed in a changing market place. It’s called the Programme for Changemakers. Click below for details.

[button link=”” type=”big” color=”green” newwindow=”yes”] Programme for Changemakers[/button]

The tension that sits between selling a future strategic position and selling value now is not easily fixed.

Everybody understands why the pull of the future is less strong than the current target and the £1 revenue in your pocket is worth more than the £10 you may get next week/ month/ year.

We know that policy, regulation, crisis, competition and discovery affect us. We know it explicitly but, in business, it’s often easier to overlook intuition because of need to get through the to-do list.

This is where the concept of hyperbolic discounting* thrives: the big picture may be interesting but measured against what needs doing next, it’s just abstract.

Despite that, we’d suggest that being informed about how future markets may develop has huge value.

Having a view of emerging consumer trends, developing technology, competitive activity and changes in regulatory landscapes can significantly improve today’s decision making: how to promote, how to communicate with the target audience, who the target audience is and how to manoeuvre to your next market position – what the next market position needs to be.

Strategy based on data specifically analysed to meet your need is a newly accurate science and it doesn’t rely entirely on history.

And so, having a strategy for the future isn’t futurism.

Doing what is necessary and doing what is right aren’t always mutually exclusive. It’s just a matter of timing.

We’ve put together an example of how we see a market segment in a downloadable infographic. This one looks at the consumer health market but we have others.

[button link=”” type=”big” newwindow=”yes”] Download our free infographic[/button]

*Hyperbolic discounting – the tendency for people to choose a smaller reward sooner over a larger reward later.

Future thinking. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

Why do companies seem great while the founder is in place and then gradually wither to nothing?

My dad started his jewellery retail business in the late 1960s. He grew it to three shops and planned for his family to succeed him. Then the 1970s came along. Petrol was in short supply. The three-day week hit. Power cuts were a regular feature on high streets and the UK hit a recession. Trade was not so buoyant, but the business kept its head above water.

By the mid-eighties, though, my dad’s shops were in trouble. The market for luxury goods was waning and he didn’t have a successor yet. The systems he’d built into his business relied upon him being there – to anyone else, they were impenetrable.

Shoppers in the jewellery market looked around for cheap alternatives. While Dad held on to his Rolex and Bulova concessions, Timex did new things with LED digital watches and shoppers drifted to lower cost products. After all, a watch didn’t get more accurate the more you spent, especially since electronics were now more reliable than mechanicals.

Empires sprouted out of ‘low cost’. What eventually killed off many traditional high street jewellers – including my dad – wasn’t a recession or a digital watch, but the insurgent response.

Even after Gerald Ratner reduced his multi-million-pound jewellery business to rubble with a single remark about how his products were so cheap – ‘because it’s total crap’ – the market still needed watches and wedding rings.  What Dad didn’t do was see the trend and respond to consumer signals. He stuck to his established ways, failed to prepare for a time when they were out of date, and eventually went under.

How does this relate to today?

Let’s have a quick look at another industry that is important to the UK today: automotive.

It’s changing.

The UK Government says within twenty years we’ll have seen the last signs of the current petro-chemical-based car industry. The recognisable car-making supply chain in the UK is founded on mining, smelting, rolling, beating and pressing. Now we’re seeing electric vehicles start to dominate. New cars are getting lighter, using less metal, and new construction methods. Process like laminating, injecting, bonding and moulding. If legislation isn’t sending a wake-up call to the component end of this market, the language of the new market should.

The SME’s lament: the language of change.

Too often, the generation that built a business doesn’t acknowledge when it needs to change radically. More and more SMEs (and others too) are seeing their markets change so quickly that there isn’t time to enjoy a ‘career’. Established SMEs are used to believing that what mum or dad started, the kids can take over. Not necessarily so.

Today, the average lifecycle of a business is around eighteen years, while careers last over thirty. Because demand and technology change markets so quickly, and old habits die hard, what worked even five years ago, can’t be relied upon to work now.

There’s an adage that says:

  1. The first generation builds it.
  2. The second generation keeps it.
  3. The third generation loses it.

This is really unfair on the third generation. The probability is that the first and second generations just don’t set the third up for success by changing soon enough.

If you see any of this in yourself, get in touch. The best time to have made an essential decision may have been twenty years ago. But the next best time is today.

Download our guide to selling innovation into your own business, ‘Seeing it differently’, here.

Future thinking. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

room44 divider


room44 divider

case studies

room44 divider

We’re collaborators – so we can’t do it alone

Tell us what your company needs.


Call us

+44 (0)20 8123 9018

Book a call

Check my calendar

Find us

Silverstone Park, NN12 8GX