Populating the 'MetaTrends' Periodic Table

By Kevin Nuttall, Published 29 September 2016

Waterfield works across many different sectors in any one year and we are increasingly noticing the emergence of overarching trends affecting all organisations. We are calling these ‘MetaTrends’.  In order to better understand these trends and their impact, industry leaders and thinkers were invited to a brainstorming session facilitated by Waterfield.

The hypothesis was that if you can identify and understand how a certain trend is affecting a specific industry, you can see the potential effect on others in the future. The session was designed to crowdsource this idea and gain insights into different industries simultaneously, harnessing the collective intelligence of a group we like to call the ‘Free Radicals’.

‘Free Radicals’ was introduced as part of Waterfield's approach and aimed to tap into the collective intelligence of groups to solve complex issues and to generate innovative ideas for the future. For the Free Radicals, it is an opportunity to work with like-minded talented people across different industries, providing insights that may not be as readily available on their own.

In this session, the Free Radicals were tasked with completing the ‘MetaTrends Periodic Table’ - named after Mendeleev's brilliant model published in 1869. Mendeleev’s model left 'holes' for yet to be discovered elements and as science progressed, his predictions were proven correct.

It is these insights about ‘holes’ in the MetaTrends Periodic Table that will allow organisations and individuals to understand how they may be affected in the future. The MetaTrends Periodic Table was divided into industries taken from the Australian Bureau of Statistics against predetermined trends - the Free Radicals began to populate the table with often unknown disrupters with varying degrees of maturity. 

In his book, The Fourth Revolution, Klaus Schwab writes “For some companies, capturing new frontiers of value may consist of developing new businesses in adjacent segments, while for others, it is about identifying shifting pockets of value in existing sectors.” 

It is these insights about ‘holes’ in the MetaTrends Periodic Table that will allow organisations and individuals to understand how they may be affected in the future. 

Decision-makers are too often caught in traditional, linear (and non-disruptive) thinking or too absorbed by immediate concerns to think strategically about the forces of disruption and innovation shaping our future.
— Klaus Schwab, The Fouth Revolution

This was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how we can understand the changes that are affecting our world, and we are confident that soon we will have a working model that analyses current and future trends that could become a powerful tool in shaping business models both now and in the future, ensuring a ‘future ready organisation’.

Learn more about our approach to tapping into collective intelligence and uncovering key insights that will propel organisations forward.