Planningness 2013 Highlights

June 2, 2013

I believe it was Eric who turned me onto the Planningness conference and the prospect of a hands-on, working conference where attendees actually, y’know, interact with other attendees to do work and collaborate sounds incredibly appealing. I would very much like to give it a go sometime but in the mean time, here is a nice wrap up of some key ideas from this year’s edition.


2011 Planner Survey

September 19, 2011

Very nice global survey of planners:


The hallmarks of bad strategy

June 28, 2011

Strategy can, and does, mean vastly different things to vastly different people. A good strategy is absolutely priceless which is why there is such a demand for excellent strategic planners in the advertising world. The flip side is that bad strategies, along with being ten a penny, can really kill your business, brand or campaign.

Which is why I really like this list, from McKinsey’s Strategic Thinking team, on what makes for bad strategy:

Failure to face the problem – to solve a problem, you must really hone in on and accept as an issue, the root issue you’re facing.

Mistaking goals for strategy – goals are great, but understanding exactly what is needed to acheive those goals is just as important. “Winning” is not a strategy. I liked this quote:

A leader may justly ask for “one last push,” but the leader’s job is more than that. The job of the leader—the strategist—is also to create the conditions that will make the push effective, to have a strategy worthy of the effort called upon.

Bad strategic objectives – either in the form of a (“long term”) laundry list or a “blue sky” restatement of the desired outcome.

Fluff – restating the obvious and often with buzzwords in a superfluous and unnecessary wordy, perhaps even pontificating style. Just like this bullet.

So what is “good strategy”, and how do we get there?

According to McKinsey:

Good strategy works by focusing energy and resources on one, or a very few, pivotal objectives whose accomplishment will lead to a cascade of favorable outcomes. It also builds a bridge between the critical challenge at the heart of the strategy and action—between desire and immediate objectives that lie within grasp. Thus, the objectives that a good strategy sets stand a good chance of being accomplished, given existing resources and competencies.

There are some core components of a strategic plan, according to McKinsey, but do not mistake this list for the “fill in the blanks” templated approach which, along with the “inability to focus”, is one of the reasons for bad strategy in the first place:

  • A diagnosis: an explanation of the nature of the challenge. A good diagnosis simplifies the often overwhelming complexity of reality by identifying certain aspects of the situation as being the critical ones.
  • A guiding policy: an overall approach chosen to cope with or overcome the obstacles identified in the diagnosis.
  • Coherent actions: steps that are coordinated with one another to support the accomplishment of the guiding policy. I imply from this that measurements of success are vital in all strong strategies

Pretty simple stuff. But as Seth says, simple is scary.

The perils of bad strategy – McKinsey Quarterly – Strategy – Strategic Thinking.


Do You Have Your Own Style?

February 23, 2011

One of the things I’m looking to develop professionally is my own style and philosophy when it comes to working in this space. I know clients have their own individual problems we’re looking to solve but I also know that clients, especially in the social media space, are looking for someone who knows how to solve problems based on experience and who can approach things the same way each time, and not have to “catch lightning in a bottle each time. I don’t want people to look at a client project and “know” that I worked on it, but it would be nice to know that, over a body of work, there was a hint that the same principles were applied to each issue.

While I don’t have this style or philosophy totally figured out just yet, it’s interesting to see that others have, and that they have put a name to it.

via adliterate, an excellent planning blog in the UK.


State of the Planning Nation in 2010

November 30, 2010

Via Annual report | The Planning Lab.

I’m constantly interested in the post-digital world (or at least the concept of the post-digital world) these days. As Faris Yakob once told me on Twitter “Planning is planning. Ain’t no flavours”


Two Planning Tips

May 7, 2010

I found this study  of colour and how each gender described it, fascinating.

Colour Analysis Spectrum

A great reminder of how the same thing means different things to different people. Know your audience!

xkcd via John Dodds.

Secondly, the top 20 planning blogs are:

01. advertising lab
02. Noah Brier dot Com
03. Nick Burcher
04. We Are Social
05. The Musings of An Opinionated Sod
06. Only Dead Fish
07. brand new
08. adliterate
09. The Curious Brain
10. Herd – the hidden truth about who we are
11. Adspace Pioneers
12. Get Shouty
13. 180/360/720
14. russell davies
15. Servant of Chaos
16. Mike Arauz
17. Make Marketing History
18. Talent imitates, genius steals
19. The Hidden Persuader
20. Interactive Marketing Trends

from Plannersphere Top 20 – May 2010 – MisEntropy. Enjoy


What Social Followers Want – eMarketer

January 25, 2010

Interesting stats from eMarketer – why do people follow brands in social media? Clearly deals are first and foremost in consumers’ minds. After all, we are in a recession and we are selfish species:

What social followers want

I’m disappointed to see that interesting or entertaining content is third on this  list. I believe branded content is the future of marketing but I guess this is also an opportunity – there is just not a lot of good content out there being produced by brands.

From a more philosophical standpoint, I’m very much encouraged to see that consumers follow brands which they already buy from – that emotional connection is starting to be formed and consumers are feeling a sense of ownership over the brands they choose.The more “skin in the game” the consumer has, the more likely they are to buy from you.

What Social Followers Want – eMarketer.


A rough scale of the abstractness and salience of questions

December 12, 2009

From How to Break Anything:

Typical times children begin to ask questions, from a lecture at the Medical College of Georgia:

  • “what” 2 yrs
  • “where” 2.6 yrs
  • “who” 3.0 yrs
  • “whose” 3.0 yrs
  • “why” 3.0 yrs
  • “how many” 3.0 yrs
  • “how” 3 ‐ 6 yrs
  • “when” 4 yrs

This could be interpreted as either a rough scale of abstractness, or a rough scale of what is most salient and critical.

via A rough scale of the abstractness/salience of questions – thoughts, insights, and observations – How To Break Anything.

Interesting to see “when” shows up. From my anthropological undergrad, I know that when teaching monkeys sign language, the idea of either the past or the future is beyond their comprehension. I guess that’s when we separate ourselves from our simian cousins.

It also helps us define the sophistication of our messaging to our clients’ target audience, with “what” being the most basic question we need to answer.


List of top planning blogs

December 2, 2009

The Misentropy blog has its monthly list of the top planners in the blogosphere, filtered out from the AdAge Power 150. Take a look below or on the Misentropy blog.

The top 20 blogs in the plannersphere as of 2nd December 2009 are:

01. advertising lab
02. adliterate
03. Noah Brier dot Com
04. Nick Burcher
05. We Are Social
06. Only Dead Fish
07. russell davies
08. brand new
09. Adspace Pioneers
10. Life Moves Pretty Fast
11. Herd – the hidden truth about who we are
12. Talent imitates, genius steals
13. Servant of Chaos
14. livingbrands
15. Make Marketing History
16. Interactive Marketing Trends
17. Mike Arauz
18. Influxinsights
19. The Hidden Persuader
20. Get Shouty

I definitely have a strong fascination with the strategic planning function and, more importantly, the insights they can arrive at which can heavily influence our own campaigns.

Take a look at the above blogs to take a look at the process many planners go through.


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