Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Perfect Planner

In those bygone days when I was responsible for recruiting and managing a Planning department, I was often asked by management what I was looking for in my new recruits. My usual answer was that I couldn't spell it out, but I'd know it if I saw it.

I read a post recently by Richard Huntington where he outlines his three requirements. All good things come in threes, so here goes:
1. Safe-looking people with dangerous minds
2. Crafty with the craft skills
3. Forward-thinking mother f**ckers (my asterisks, not his, or Julian Cope's either who Richard attributes this one to)

It's pretty well there. I also found one of those exhaustive lists in my file, which may be from the last century, but I still think it's pretty good. Unfortunately I don't know who to attribute it to. I'm sure it came from Saatchi somewhere and I'm equally sure it didn't come from me. Here goes:

Hiring A Planner?

Most CEOs look for someone who is “smart”, “cerebral”. Someone who is “well read”.  Preferably someone with a “psychological or anthropological background”.  Who understands human behaviour.  And who speaks in a “convincing” manner.

What is often forgotten are the qualities it takes to acquire true understanding. The qualities that are required to not only sound convincing, but to be convincing.  The qualities that allow a planner to stimulate, nurture and protect great ideas.

The following outlines 10 characteristics often forgotten when hiring a planner.

1.    X-ray Vision: The most powerful communication between individuals and groups is non-verbal.  And if your potential planner talks more than they watch, chances are they will miss 90% of what is actually being communicated.

2.    Sonic Ears: What people say and what they mean are often two different things.  Many planners can get caught up in the words, when it’s the tone and the manner in which the words are delivered that is communicating the loudest.

3.    Explorer:  Many planners base their understanding of consumers on theory.  What they have learned in research or from books.  What they don’t do is get out of their office, away from their books, and submerge themselves in the real world.

4.    Imagination:  A planner’s job is not just to understand human behaviour, it is also to inspire creative solutions.  And all the understanding in the world is useless to our creative people …if it doesn’t inspire them.

5.    Instinct:  Human behaviour is not always predictable.  A good planner will rely as much on their gut as they will on the numbers.

6.    Curiosity:  People change all the time.  And a planner who assumes they know the answers is a planner who has lost their ability to accept change.

7.    A Player: The result of creativity is not always predictable … essentially because of the huge unknown called human emotions.  A good planner needs to be able to accept when an idea may be bigger than what the focus groups or the numbers have told them.

8.    Open Minded: Understanding people means that you can’t judge them.  A good planner will see things from multiple perspectives … not just their own. 

9.    Motherly:  Brilliant ideas need to be protected and nurtured, not judged.  A good planner will discover ways of improving ideas, not killing them.

10. A Hunter: Being a planner is not about gathering information.  It’s about hunting down insights.  It’s about getting to the kill quicker.  It’s an active role, not a passive one.

I'm with most of that, too. But interesting that people ask what you're looking for. And Richard H mentions "safe-looking". A lot of the planners I recruited did bear some resemblance to Brains from Thunderbirds. 

But there were others who looked like Lady Penelope.

1 comment:

Chanel said...

This is great!