Magnus Lindkvist: The Future is always stranger than we imagine

20. June 2022 – Katharina Schlangenotto

Magnus Lindkvist calls himself a “Disrupted Futurologist”. The Swedish author and trend spotter came to his fascinating profession because writing and making films didn’t work out. “Failure brought me to my passion”, he says.

Most certainly, Lindkvist is not one of those who conforms. He openly says that we humans are simply incapable of predicting the future. The future will always be stranger than we can imagine, Lindkvist is convinced. But then, what about predicting what will happen in the future in the first place?

That’s where so-called trends come in handy. The Camebridge Dictionary defines a trend as “a general development or change in a situation or in the behavior of people,” while the Oxford Dictionary describes trends as “a discernible direction of development, a strong tendency such as “the new, prevailing, fashionable trend.”

A trend must be a packaged revolution

To detect trends, futurology uses tools such as scanning or monitoring or trend scouting. Magnus Lindkvist explains trends this way: “The original meaning of the word ‘trend’ was ‘turning point’. So, what we are looking for are the turning points, the anomalies, the exceptions, the inflection points. We’re not talking about a “people breathe oxygen” trend, because that’s a human given, a basic biological need, and eternal. When we identify trends, we are looking for something new, unique, neurally stimulating and provocative. That’s why the use of the word trend is usually wrong – it’s the repetition of conventional wisdom about climate change, globalization, or healthy eating. Boring, clichéd and conventional. A trend should be a small, combustible part of a packaged revolution.”

When Magnus Lindkvist wants to track down a trend, he looks inside people, he says. Because that’s the best place to hide information, he says. Those who want to track down trends should “go where others don’t go.” He advises, “Talk to the crazy people. Practice immersive trendspotting. Stay away from Google and the newsstand.”

Time factor and the courage to create

As a company, it often takes decades to bring something new and grandiose to market, he said. Staying tuned is also important, he says. The Nespresso company, he recounts, was founded as early as 1986, but its breakthrough didn’t come until movie star George Clooney began promoting the brand in 2009. The rest is history.

In addition to the time factor, a good deal of creativity and courage would also be needed. If you want to create something new, you have to look ahead.

In his presentations, Magnus Lindkvist talks about the 50 ways to future-proof work and life, the onslaught of the unexpected, why small ideas matter in the world of grand narratives, the actions of the trend spotter, and about futures that begin and never end.

Magnus Lindkvist

Trendspotter & Trendanalyst