Two things happened last week...
Firstly, I did one of my first lectures at the University of East London on 'planning advertising' as part of my role as Visiting Fellow to the School of Arts & Digital Industries. I was asked what makes a good planner.
Secondly, I had a chat with one of the best planners I have worked with who talked recently about planning as an apprenticeship and admitting he was still an apprentice - despite 20 years in the business. With the canon of planning being the master.
It struck me that there is a base operating system for any planner. And that the upgrades we add over time is the apprenticeship in action - inspired by peers and the lives we lead. Each update adds more to the kernel of planning - adopting new learnings, techniques and new insights.
So to capture this...I give you, and in no particular order, the 6 pillars of a planning apprenticeship....
The skills, behaviours and attitude that any planner needs to develop over time.
The 6 pillars of a planning apprenticeship
Remaining curious about how people and the world work - and how the two crossover - is the main task of a planner. The planner apprentice needs to sustain a curiosity for finding insight everywhere they look. Questioning and observing life in all its profundity. In curiosity lies wisdom and light!
Planners need to operate from a position of confidence. Taking a position in a debate with conviction requires balls. Be passionate, but be clear in your position. Confidence is both learned and innate - and can sometimes drift and ebb according to where you are in life. So it can be a complex bit of the journey...
Be effective and elegant in the way you communicate. Using language to inspire and ignite ideas is what it is all about. Using poetry to sell ideas. Using images to pitch the shit out of something. Using language in all its forms: verbal, visual, written and gesture. Master them all. Learn to present like you care.
A planner who can't think like a creative will struggle. Developing interests in 'creativity' will of course help develop your planning. Understand how creative people work. Spend time absorbing what the journey to an idea looks and feels like. Learn about form, function and formats. Noodle into obscure topics and go deep. Find what motivates artists.
Planner craft is important and constantly changing. Those that refresh and update their craft portofolio of strategy will become a better aprentice. Eat all of it: from research, insight, theory, media, business, innovation, strategy. Stay on top of the inputs in order to make the craft of outputs really matter. Nourish your strategic skillset with fresh takes on old problems.
If brands exist in the spaces between people, then culture is the air that gives them wings. It is all around us. Complex and vibrant. Get underneath it, amongst it and around it. Expose yourself to as many new bits of culture as you can. Find out what binds us and pulls as apart. Be a cultural detective.
The learning never ends...