Wednesday, 10 February 2016

From here to arrogance

When writing a strategy, or a plan, particularly one of those that's meant to motivate and gee up a whole department of people, it's very easy to over-estimate the significance of now.This isn't surprising, perhaps, as one of the first questions you ask when developing a strategy is: Where are we now?

The inevitable consequence is that we determine 'now' to be of the utmost importance and load this arbitrary point in time with meaning. I've done it more than enough times - and here's another example, in the Manifest for Change from the new APG chair, Dom Boyd, entitled Future. Now.

I'm not against the sort of claims that 'there's never been a more exciting time to be in this industry' as a way to motivate people, but I am a little cynical about whether such statements are universally applicable.

Every generation likes to think they are part of a 'golden age.'

Another tendency that I'll own up to, which over-emphasises the here and now is the 'from - to' way of summarising what's going on in the environment. I'm very fond of the kind of transformations:

From online and offline to always on/off

From touch points to never-ending customer journey

From USP to brand purpose

From one-way messaging to engaging conversations

And this is all OK. It's a way of looking at the world and explaining what is going on. But 'going on' is the key point here. The world is in constant change.'To' is not really an endpoint. Things will continue evolving.

I wonder if over-use of the word 'journey' is to blame. I like to remind myself that 'the map is not the territory'. Using the 'journey' metaphor or the 'from - to' construction is merely taking a snapshot on the way to a future that we can't predict, however clever we are at trend-spotting.

And maybe that's what makes our job as planners exciting, whatever age we live in.

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