David Hackworthy

Future Of Planning

The Future of Planning Is Everything, Everywhere, All At Once

The chief strategy officer, global brands, at Publicis Groupe celebrates role of planning as being one-part big picture visionary, one-part radical entrepreneur

By David Hackworthy

The world of account planning is getting a lot deeper, wider and faster. This is great news, as it gives us more chances to unlock new ways to grow for our clients.

On the one hand, we are still in the business of taking the long view ; grappling with brand positioning, brand purpose, brand portfolio management, social missions and sustainability strategies. On the other hand , living in a “permacrisis” world means taking a much more urgent approach; looking for pivots in business models, hunting out different sources of growth and reacting to market demands in real time. This sounds exciting ; one-part big picture visionary, one-part radical entrepreneur.

There is plenty of action too in our communications swim lane. Proving that creativity sells and choking off dubious testing protocols is still a full-time job; but working out how to turn creative platforms into platform creativity or how to truly unlock the power of creativity in the commerce arena are just some of the frontiers we need to quickly master for our clients.

We also need to get well outside our communications swim lane. Once upon a time, our job was to bring the voice of the consumer forward into the communications process, but these days it seems you can’t shut them up.

So we have loads of that to work with; but if we are really digging into the problems we can solve for our clients, we should be swapping spit with the consultants, B2B and DBT (digital business transformation) specialists, corporate strategy, data, media and innovation teams on a daily basis. Smashing together different views of how a business can respond to the world around is what makes our job so interesting .Courting positive friction across disciplines is where the new ways to unlock growth really come from.Of course, it helps if you have all these skills under one roof as we do at Publicis.

There is a lot to chew on in the future of account planning and we can play a significant role in marshalling the component pieces of a business to greatest effect. It’s not an egotistical view of planning. My favourite definition of humility is “teachability” and I certainly get to learn new and different things every day now.That’s why I think being a planner is still the best job in our industry.. It’s not about having all the answers ,but having an open mind and being hungry to work out the best way to work in our everchanging business environment. Or as one of my Byron Bay buddies likes to say, “don’t find a rock to stand on, grab a surfboard and ride the waves”.

David Hackworthy is chief strategy officer, global brands at Publicis Groupe


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