Review: Non Obvious, how to predict trends and win the future by Rohit Bhargava

I’ve been a bit behind on my reading over the last few weeks, but this book fell into my pile as a ‘prize’ at a recent event and quick flick through had me immediately hooked.

Non Obvious 2018 is the latest instalment in an annual report of ‘trends’ that are researched and curated by Bhargava. What originally started out as an online-only report, has made the leap to a book and comes wrapped in some interesting extra chapters.

The book opens with a good explanation of what trends are, and how the author goes about researching, gathering and then curating the ideas for each year. It might seem counter-intuitive to provide a guide to writing your trend book, but the examples and process look fun and anyone can collate their opinions into a book. As someone who struggles to label ideas and projects, I especially liked the methodology that is used to name the trends, and the haystack method of collating information is easily transferrable to other fields of information.

The body of the book is the 2018 report, where Bhargava brings together 15 trends, each with supporting evidence. The 2018 report contains some excellent concepts, from ‘Truthing’ – the idea that people will search out truth based on personal connection through to ‘Manipulated Outrage’ – a perpetual stream of noise that is designed to incite rage.

Each of the trends is well described, with a short and the detailed summary and some good examples. At the end of the trend, there is a ‘why this matters’ section and some ways that you can use this trend to your advantage in business or in your product.

The book is backed up with some online resources, which can help find the articles cited in the examples and some exercises that can help with brainstorming your trends.

At the end of the book, there is a Trend Action Guide, a set of ‘go-do’ actions that can help you continue your thinking about the trends, as well as a comprehensive analysis of the trends identified in the previous books, which I thought was a transparent way of assessing accuracy.

Overall, I really enjoyed Non Obvious, the trends identified were both interesting and provocative. I found myself translating some of these trends into my day job and thinking whether there were opportunities for me leverage some of the thinking into the Customer Experience work I am doing.

The book is written in a very readable style, almost like a magazine or blog with short, snappy chapters containing sensible, relatable examples. I found it a great book for the commute where I might have to stop and start, and it was easy to plough through it at a good pace.

I’d highly recommend Non Obvious to anyone who likes to think about the big picture of the trends that are affecting all of us on a daily basis. The ideas and provocations included feel both accurate and interesting.

Brain Diet – November 2017

Inspired by Kottke – here’s a snapshot of the media that is currently feeding me:

  • Watch: Tin Star (Sky Atlantic) – Binge watched this great series about a British cop played excellently by Tim Roth, who moves with his family to Canada for a quiet life. When tragedy strikes, his life takes an all too familiar path.
  • Listen: Charlotte Gainsbourg / Rest (Spotify) – Fantastically lush electronica to support some great songwriting and vocal performances. Beautiful album.
  • Read : Satya Nadella / Hit Refresh (Amazon) – Easy reading from the CEO of Microsoft, part biography, part business book, part manifesto on the future of technology.
  • Watch: Mindhunter (Netflix) – Another binge watch, set in the early 70’s as the FBI begin research into serial killers.  Features some great scenes as the team interview some of the most notorious names from the American crime psyche.
  • Listen: Baxter Dury / Prince of Tears (Spotify) – Louche beats, laid back spoken vocals and a guest appearance from Justin Williamson (Sleaford Mods) make this a must listen album for the end of 2017.
  • Read: Working Out Loud / John Stepper (Amazon) – Excellent book with some easy to read, practical advice on building better relationships that can benefit your career or any other area of life.  Supported by an interesting blog here.
  • Watch: The Deuce (Sky Atlantic) – Set around Time Square / 42nd Street in New York (known locally as The Deuce), this is a great series focusing on the prostitutes and pimps that inhabit the area in the early seventies.  Starring James Franco in two roles, and Maggie Gyllenhaal as a prostitute turned pornographer.

Brain Diet – October 2017

Inspired by Kottke – here’s a snapshot of the media that is currently feeding me:

  • Four Tet / New Energy (Listen : Spotify) – eclectic, worldly electronica that is simultaneously soothing and twitchy.  Highlight, Two Thousand and Seventeen.
  • Halt and Catch Fire (Watch : Amazon TV) – I loved series 1 and 2,  am now catching up on Series 3 where the characters are busy inventing the internet.  Possibly the best thing on TV since Mad Men.
  • Olivia Belli / Max Richter: Piano Works (Listen : Spotify) – simple piano versions of Richters works. Minimal, beautiful and spacious music. 
  • Jeanne Bliss / Chief Customer Officer 2.0 (Read : Amazon) – great read with some excellent insights into the customer office role.  Five solid principles to bring the customer life in your organisation.
  • Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross / The Vietnam War Original Score (Listen : Spotify) – I haven’t seen this PBS series yet (on the BBC iplayer), but if the OST is anything to go by, it should be excellent. 
  • Electric Dreams (Watch : Channel 4 TV) – Ten part series of short films inspired by Philip K Dick, great cast and some excellent screenwriting make this a good weekly watch.
  • Matt Watkinson / The Grid (Read: Amazon) – interesting approach to thinking about how a business runs, the moving parts that impact each other and help you make decisions.
  • Adam Buxton Podcast (Listen : Web) – always a funny, and interesting listen. Recent highlight is the Johnny Marr edition with great insights into the creative process.