Gen Kobayashi

The future of planning

The Future of Planning Is Creativity

Planning is always done best when it is the driving force of creativity, argues the chief strategy officer UK & EMEA, Weber Shandwick

By Gen Kobayashi

If the last few years have shown us anything, it is that the only constant in this world is complex change and disruption. We have lurched from one global crisis to another. From a once in a generation pandemic, to war taking place on European soil, the global climate crisis and spiralling cost of living. We are about to enter a global recession at a scale that we haven’t seen in decades.

The reality of a rising inflation and recession, coupled with an ageing population putting even greater strain on our healthcare systems along with public and private debt ratios at historic highs, make no mistake, things are going to get worse before they get better.

This rapid and complex change taking place with a backdrop of economic uncertainty offers a gigantic headache for brands but a colossal opportunity for the discipline of planning.

An opportunity for planning to return to its roots and take a central role in the future.

How? By doing what planning has always done best – being a driving force of creativity.

Now, I don’t mean we’re all suddenly going to retrain as copywriters, art directors and designers in the face of economic uncertainty. I mean the dictionary definition of creativity original and/or novel thinking. Being “creative” is what we’re paid to do as planners.

And in a world that is increasingly hard to benchmark (no amount of modelling could have predicted Covid or the war in Ukraine), our clients need people to help untangle and navigate a path forward. It’s up to us to be able to think creatively about how we can help solve the myriad of problems our clients are facing today that can’t necessarily be solved by the same means of the past. Finding novel and new ways to solve problems that have never been seen before. This is true creativity in action and any client worth their salt should be willing to pay for this sort of creativity now more than ever.

As Adam Morgan has extensively written about, sometimes you need a beautiful constraint to unlock breakthrough creative thinking. And I would say that the direction the world is currently travelling, it offers planning a myriad of constraints that can be turned into opportunity if creativity is applied in the right way.

Gen Kobayashi is chief strategy officer UK & EMEA, Weber Shandwick


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