Friday, 27 February 2015

You're so vain

Some years back, when I was still employed by an advertising agency, the CEO made a strange decision. He was going to have a two-headed planning department. There would be an external Head of Planning, who was the face of the agency's planning to the outside world, including the major clients. And there would be an internal Head of Planning (guess who?) who'd be responsible for training, coaching, tools, ways of working, that kind of thing.

To be fair, I never really gave it a chance to work because I left. But I did notice in the years following that there seemed to be a vogue for Planners as Rock Stars. It was around about the time that Web 2.0 was in its infancy and the bright young-ish stars were busy self-profiling. People talked about "gigs" when they were giving a talk and referred to fellow stars by their first names only, rather like the Supermodels of the time. If you weren't pontificating with your "humungous brain the size of a planet" all over the internet, you weren't anywhere.

It's a bit like what I'm seeing today in the literary world, which is undergoing a transformation. They've suddenly caught on to Web 2.0 and authors are encouraged to self-profile and self-promote. The result is a rash of blogs and websites and posts all about the process and act of writing itself, rather than the end result. Some people can get away with it, but others come over as distinctly uncomfortable with the me, me, me of self-promotion. Because when it comes down to it, Planners and writers of fiction are remarkably similar.

I was cheered to read this article by Lucy Jameson, Chief Strategy Officer at Grey London (which is what top Planners are called these days). "Planning is about people, not writing a famous blog or endless Tweeting".

Curiosity about people and how they behave, how they feel, what makes them tick is what makes a good planner.

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