Paradoxical Trends

I’m still reading and thinking and rethinking Rethinking Marketing:  The Entrepreneurial Imperative, by Minet Schindehutte, Michael H. Morris, and Leyland F. Pitt.

The authors attempt to identify trends defining life, business, and the world in the 21st century.

"The problem is," they write, "that trends aren’t what they used to be."

"The trends of the modern age were linear–more, or less, of something that was either good for most actors or bad for everyone…Like most post-modern phenomena, however, the trends of the post-modern 21st century are paradoxical."

The authors posit these paradoxical trends:

1.  Growth and prosperity versus poverty and despair
2.  Free markets versus growing protectionism
3.  Population growth versus population shortages
4.  Global bliss versus global doom
5.  Power of multinational corporations versus fragility of multinational corporations
6.  Worldwide media reach versus fragmentation of media and audiences
7.  Enhanced service versus diminished service
8.  Brands versus anti-brands

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a paradox is "a seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true:  the paradox that standing is more tiring than walking."  The word has a Greek origin meaning "conflicting with expectation."

How does one handle this contradiction and conflict? 

The authors recommend "achieving strategic balance" in a diagram showing "there is a paradoxical tension to maintain evolutionary change on the one hand and to achieve a process of revolutionary change on the other."

Balancing evolutionary change with revolutionary change.

Sounds like writing a business plan for something that began where there was nothing, and now there’s something. 

Sounds like being an entrepreneur.

Which, of course, is the authors’ subtitle:  "The Entrepreneurial Imperative." 

This book, I think, is putting me in a state of strategic imbalance.

The best books do that.

I am still reading, thinking, and rethinking. 

[Here’s a Wall Street Journal article on Predictions of the Past, 1/28/08.]


  1. Don't forget that "trends" can be graphed, and to do so takes 3 things: Point A, B, and time. The rate of change between point A and B is the key topic. Every little change between A and B does not have to be called a trend.

    As I study the authors' list, I see only distinctive pairs of major differences, not paradoxes,two populations or clusters occurring together, like good and evil, rich and poor, well and sick. There are always problems of definition (such as for the meaning of "sick") but posing these elements as paradoxes can harm the analyses. Perhaps for each pair, there are largely quantitative differences. We merely need more of the evidently good and less of the evidently bad and spend less time discussing the border areas … until we have more time.

    We need more action for these pairs, more tactical than strategic. Evolution is underway; revolution may not be strategically or energetically sound … a possible trend when viewed over more time.

  2. Anne Clelland says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful post.

    The authors mention John Naisbitt, the Megatrends guy. Looks like he has a 2006 book, Mind Set!

    I'm wondering if looking for trends in order to make predictions helps ease the sense of risk when decisions have to be made right here, right now, when "more time" doesn't seem available.

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