I’ve been thinking a lot about what the focus of my first post after vacation should be, and there were so many topics I just couldn’t decide… until a story suddenly popped into my head from an experience I had while doing one of my favorite activities: teaching.

During one of the courses I teach on trend analysis for business activities, one of the students told a story that included a word that had the whole class investigating for days: “makuken”.


In the 1960s, this student’s father traveled to fairs around Europe for business, observing and trying to adapt his company to what he found. One thing fascinated him and it was an expression that, he said, he had heard in Germany and summed up this activity of observing: “makuken”.

Over time, my student and I realized that the word “makuken” is, possibly, a phonetic adaptation of the German expression “wir suchen”; meaning, “we’re searching”.

Apart from making us laugh when we discovered this, the story is significant because, although I was teaching a class on trend analysis, I was surprised to find that most companies have forgotten the age-old activity of observing when innovating, both in terms of products and services. And what’s worse, many have forgotten to observe their own users, to analyze what impacts them and know how to contextualize all of this information in order to offer products and services that fit what users really need.

In class, although we were speaking about users and trend analysis, being aware of the big picture was what led my student to remember her father and the expression “makuken”.

Access to and analysis of data (particularly now that we are working in the era of big data and the possibilities it offers on different levels) are highly important for the day-to-day running of any company; however, if we are not able to properly synthesize and contextualize this information and don’t combine it with other factors from the environment from which it was extracted, this information loses nearly all its meaning and becomes completely superficial. We don’t only need to know what is happening, but also must be able to explain why, to whom and how. We must know how to see that there are facts from different areas that have a strong connection and will directly impact our user and their environment.

The important thing to highlight here is that innovation in terms of a product or service is not enough; it is key to know our user, their environment, and try to find out what has an impact on their daily life, contextualize all the information and then, yes, innovate to address those needs.

In short: analyze, systematize, contextualize and connect data: “Makuken”.

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