An important part of the skill of competing is the art of betting on future trends before they are obvious to everyone. Every company attempts to do so. Startups in particular are all about “seeing” things around the corner, and anticipating changing preferences. I call it an art because trying to apply the principles behind exact sciences like physics to predicting social behavior and the diffusion of new trends is shamanism. I have nothing against shamans as a profession, though. Some of my best friends are shamans. Some of the brightest scientists can be shamans. A case in point is Didier Sornette, a physicist who claims to have discovered a method to predict the exact time market bubbles will pop based on the physical principles behind a spiraling coin. Unfortunately, he failed to predict the 2008 crash. Here is my prediction: he will fail in predicting the next one as well. And I did not even have to apply any fractal or quantum or other theories.
While trends cannot be verified by science before they are obvious, for me they are felt subcutaneously, as in goose bumps when something is not right. That’s what I felt when reading about Walmart going small. Walmart? …Read More →