Pattern recognition is a skill every entrepreneur must develop. First, let me define pattern recognition. This pertains to the ability of a person to spot small changes in the environment and make sense of it. Over the years we have seen many changes that have happened, like martial law, coup de tat, economic downturn, boom in the IT and nursing industries. We have noticed them and labeled them because they are big events but these events have originated from little spark of events. In the book Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell, he said that small events will lead to a tipping point and after the tipping point, events become viral and hard to stop. These group of small events are like small ripples in the sea that expand and eventually go big over time. These Events can be anything from disease to fashion. The role of the entrepreneur in such events is to spot the wave of trend early; to either exploit the opportunity or protect the business from the threat. The key to unlocking the trend is Pattern Recognition.
Let us use typhoon as an example. Before a big typhoon comes to an area, it is spotted by weather experts. As the typhoon arrives, the strength, speed and time of downpour is reported on radio, TV and Internet. The person who hears it and prepares for it has a bigger chance of surviving, as compared to the person who neglects the announcement. This is also the same in business, everyday we come across different events, and these events lead to bigger events. Being sensitive to events will give us insights that will help us in our business.
A business case is Apple’s iPod. In the late 90’s downloading music was very rampant. Each music lover would have at least a thousand music in his hard drive. Steve Jobs saw this event as an opportunity. Because he was sensitive about the trend, he came up with an iPod. The gadget became an instant hit to music lovers, these people can now carry thousands of music in their pocket instead of leaving it inside the hard drive.
Pattern recognition like any skill can be taught and developed. All it takes is understanding and practice.
Be present in the moment and listen to what MANY people are talking about. What people talk about are always in the news and in the streets. In the Filipino language, it is called chismis. Use chismis for productivity and not to destroy another person. As entrepreneur you have to always know what is happening because the first one to know, gets to act first.
Pay attention to details, most specially in the little changes around. Be aware of changes in the behavior of people and the drivers of their behavior. Understand what drives people to do certain things and why. Know what causes things and its effects. In business, observing means understanding your customer’s behavior, knowing how they buy and what leads them to buying a product or service.
Based on you observation, find patterns in the behavior of people. This means that you have to look for what is common, before, during and after the event. Study how events are link to how people react or make choices; like people line up in gas stations just before a price increase or how majority of people pull out their money from stock market when there are adverse situations in politics. When you know patterns in the behavior of people, it will be easy for you to make predictions in the future.
Once you find patterns in the behavior of people it is time to make sense out of them. Making sense for progress, whether in business or personal, should be the goal every time you study patterns. So what if people panic and pull out their money in stock market? Then stock prices go down and it is time for you to buy stocks because it is cheap. So what if Samsung is the in thing and not Sony? Then you know you don’t have to stock up more Sony Phones in your inventory. Always have a “so what?” Attitude, this will help you identify opportunities and threats in the environment, inside and out your business.
Changes take place everyday and we must always welcome it. These changes could be the start of a big event; either good or bad. What is important is that we are aware that something is happening. When we sense change, we need to turn on our skill in Pattern Recognition so we can be ahead of your competitors; by either discovering new opportunities or protecting the business from the negative effects of threats.