The Future of Planning
Let's Get The Best Band Together
Embrace a variety of perspectives, experiences and opinions to create creative excellence, says Havas London's CSO
02 May 2023
One of my favourite places to think is on the Underground. This is partly because the hypnotic movement of the train seems to shift and unlock something in my brain. It also helps that you can never get a phone signal down there.
I often refer to the Tube as my office because I find it a brilliant place to study people and behaviour. I’ll sit there looking at everyone around me, and try to imagine where they’re going or what the clothes they wear tells me about them. And how to get them to look up from their Candy Crush.
Observing and listening are underrated qualities in our industry. More often than not, we’re expected to talk people round and to always sound like we know the answer. Listening doesn’t always come naturally, but it’s a radical part of the strategic process.
Our speedy culture makes us all want great things, right now, and naturally that impacts on our creative process.
So, how can we work faster and still get to a solution that is based on a genuine human truth that will connect a brand to its audience and enable it to play a meaningful role in people’s lives, when we haven’t got the luxury of time to sit in a dark corner and ruminate smart thoughts? Or spend the entire day underground in a tunnel?
Gone are the days when agencies could continually claim to have the perfect solution to clients' business problems. What clients want to hear from their agency partner is that they’re willing to work with them to reach the solution together. As strategists we need to be more open to collaborating. And as an industry we’ve got to move on from ‘ta-da’ and focus more on ‘to do’.
We are better as societies when we make room for all kinds of people and welcome all kinds of thoughts. And agencies are no different. Creative leaps in strategy depend upon building and nurturing a team as diverse as the world we live in. That means getting as many brilliant perspectives and mindsets on the business problem as possible to get to more innovative strategic solutions, faster.
As my creative partner CCO Vicki Maguire and I always say, it’s about getting the best band together because even the biggest bands of all time are always a sum of their parts, and never solely down to the one in front of the mic.
Creating the right environment where people feel safe to collaborate and share ideas is crucial here. I tell my great strategy band of thinkers, doers, writers, environmentalists, stand up comics, workshoppers and culture explorers that the mission is always to achieve creative excellence through collective intelligence. If the strategy doesn’t lead to meaningful creative output that people actually give a shit about, it’s just theory for theory’s sake.
But be wary of how you rush to solutions. Einstein is purported to have said: “If I had an hour to save the world, I would spend fifty five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.” The problem is always the quickest route to the answer. Get to that problem and find the best creative leap in strategy by collaborating with the best band around you. The people that have different ideas, insights and points of view than yourself.
Britt Iversen is chief strategy officer at Havas London