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Why Trend Following Can Hurt Performance

2015 is now upon us and as I reflect on starting the year, I have to play some Nina Simone….

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good

Here is one reason why.

In mid-2014, I decided to try something out for the sake of feeling better rather than following a trend. Memorial Day 2014, I decided to transition to a gluten-free lifestyle. Many people thought I was crazy and it wouldn’t last. I am here to say that that lifestyle is still charging full steam ahead.

The spark for this change was not because of the many fad and trend lifestyle posts out there that say gluten-free is what we should all be doing, but rather it was an experiment. I hadn’t felt well and being the self-diagnosing society we have become with the aid of the internet, I began researching the impacts of gluten. Based on my symptoms and the way I felt, I thought….I will give it a try and see what happens.

Starting the journey was hard between withdrawal symptoms of gluten and quickly realizing I could no longer eat this bread or that pasta. This change was really going to require me to examine the way I eat. More fresh and basic ingredients to create real and not processed food.

This alone would make many people jump ship, but I was in it for the long-haul. Six months later I feel better and this change has helped me get back to eating right and not for convenience or just because it is available.

See, I decided to explore gluten-free not because it was the new trend, but rather because I did the research and determined it might be able to aid me in feelingbetter. Many times when we read the upcoming trends, we have to jump on board. Why? Because everyone has to be like the Jones’ (if you haven’t see the movie, check it!) with this new phone, this new employee engagement method, or this streamlined way of management.

While trends are something we should take note of, it doesn’t mean you should immediately jump on board with it. How many times have you seen something implemented because it was the new buzzword or trend and it fail? What about having to purchase this new item or do this new thing and it doesn’t live up to the hype everyone said it would? Probably more than you can count, huh?

And why is this?

My thinking is because it is a reaction. We are told if you don’t do this or buy this item, then you will fall behind. Since we don’t want to be in the category as falling behind, we do, don’t, buy, or implement the “trend” and wait to see what happens.

Going back to my gluten-free example, I have read many people who have jumped on this bandwagon because they read they can lose a ton of weight. Well, the opposite occurred – they either didn’t lose any weight or they gained. How can this be when everything they read said they will lose weight? Well, not everyone loses weight going gluten-free. Not everyone’s body reacts the same when will eliminating gluten.

The impact of investing in a trend and it not playing out is detrimental to some people. Whether it is something personally or professionally, performance is impacted one way or another.

So, how can you get smarter when it comes to trying out trends?

  1. Research – do you you simply buy a certain car because someone tells you to? Sure you don’t. Following trends shouldn’t be any different. Conduct your research first – get all accounts of the facts, talk with people who have tried it, explore various avenues/outlets for information.
  2. Take Your Time – just as buying a car is something you usually don’t rush into, neither should jumping on bandwagon for buzzwords or trends. Take your time. It has to feel right for you or your organization.
  3. Know Your Why – give consideration as to why you would consider the trend or buzzword. What is sparking this idea? Is it just to keep up with everyone? If so, reevaluate.
  4. Evaluate Your Situation – you have your research, you have spoken with people, you want to explore this new thing more than just because it is new, now determine does it align with the situation to change. Does this new trend or buzzword fit with the organization? Would it be counter intuitive to productivity, performance, morale? If it is something personally, does it fit into your life?
  5. Experiment – if you decided to move forward, don’t jump all feet in. If this change is something big for the organization, pilot it out. Start small to determine its impact before rolling out to everyone. If you are buying a car, test drive it, play with the gadgets inside. And do it more than once!
  6. Expectations – set expectations for what you are trying to achieve or gain and measure those over time.
  7. Act – based on analysis over time against your expectations, act on what is best. Do you continue or do you not? Do you expand the pilot in the organization, extend the pilot, or cease the pilot all together?

The key thing to remember is any change has to be for the right reasons. Does it merry up to what you or the organization is seeking? If it doesn’t, then give more thought versus reacting.

Have a great 2015!

P.S., I also decided to give up sugar (again as an experiment) in December. It was an eye opener for me, as I learned what has been the trigger of my migraines over the years. And it doesn’t hurt I lost some weight too 🙂

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