Looking for the Adjacent Possible

Jack Blog

June 19th, 2014 By Jack Morton

It was fascinating listening to futurologist Jason Silva at Cannes Lions – as he said, quoting Shakespeare: ‘We know what we are, but know not what we may be.’  The possibilities for the future of humankind are mind-blowing.  Silva referred to the opportunity as being able to see the ‘adjacent possible’ –the myriad ways in which the present could reinvent itself if we can only seize the opportunities that our exponential rate of knowledge growth can present us and ask ‘what if?’.  It made me think that, whilst on a slightly less monumental scale, we should apply the same principle to our work in marketing – we should be asking ‘what if’ and looking for the ‘adjacent possible’ in all that we do.

There were certainly many parallels to be drawn in other sessions. Sense Worldwide had some great comments about our need to go to the extreme in order to achieve real insight.  Bearing in mind that the majority of people are broadly ambivalent about most brands – we need to think like the people at the extreme – the ones that passionately love or hate the brand to help us find new opportunities to add value to people’s lives.  And Iris talked about looking at the outlying areas in data analysis, rather than the obvious – the need to be data curators juxtaposing and revealing new patterns that can inspire new ways of thinking.  And whilst these represent just some aspects of our industry, it’s an inspiring thought –  whatever field of marketing we work in couldn’t we all benefit from looking for the left-field, to find the adjacent possible.