the future of planning

Forget AI. The Future Of Planning Is GI

VCCP's Group CSO argues that there will always be a need for human brains to provide context and connection through creativity

By clare hutchinson

Planning is without doubt, the very best job in the world.

But as every career looks to its future and starts asking existential questions… what does the future hold for planners?

I’d argue that it’s very bright.

And here’s why…

In my last two years of school, I decided to study History of Art A-level. Which was, perhaps, the best and worst educational decision I’ve ever made.

The worst because our teacher, who was very tall, idiosyncratic and eccentric, took the unilateral decision to go rogue when it came to the national curriculum. Whilst his personalised syllabus left us highly unprepared for the exam hall, everything he taught us equipped us not only for life, but for a career in planning.

Because throughout History, artists have always pushed new frontiers. Challenged the status quo, and disrupted society with the shock of the new. And as soon as the new became established, it became the job of the next pioneer to smash through societal norms and provide what’s next. From perspective, to chiaroscuro, to abstraction, to modernism the desire to push frontiers and challenge the establishment with new ideas and new thinking has been ever present. Ideas that challenge culture and society, whilst simultaneously shaping their future.

Whatever century or decade we live in, humans will demand and need innovation to drive progress. And it turns out that innovation demands and needs humans to create it. Because whilst AI can invent and create anything, human context and connection is everything. As it was for Brunelleschi, Leonardo, Goya, Degas, Picasso and Hockney, so it is for planners today, and in the future.

In the next millennia whilst we may not be planning campaigns, there will always be a need for human brains to bring humanity, relevance and resonance to ideas and innovation. Whether that is in building brands, inventing new products, services, or experiences, what we bring is a very special combination of EQ and IQ.

So, whilst we live in an exciting and brave new world where AI can generate millions of different ideas and possibilities in a milli-second, planning can still provide the human filter to understand the context and resonance of an idea. To make it meaningful. Which is why I believe that there is one hidden and often overlooked skill that will become fundamental for the most successful of planners.

Not AI, but GI.

Gut instinct.

Our gut instinct is our most valuable, and overlooked asset, because it draws on every single experience that we’ve ever had. When you approach a decision intuitively, your brain works in tandem with your gut to quickly assess all your memories, past learnings, personal needs, and preferences and then makes the wisest decision given the context.

There’s a deep neurological basis for intuition. Scientists call the stomach the “second brain” for a reason. There’s a vast neural network of 100 million neurons lining your entire digestive tract. That’s more neurons than are found in the spinal cord, which points to the gut’s incredible processing abilities.

It’s our own in-built idea generator. It can also tell us whether an idea or person smells good or bad. It’s our survival mechanism, but I’d argue that it’s also our thriving mechanism. And in a world increasingly obsessed with data and analytics, that encourages us to repress our intuitive instinct in favour of making logical, evidence-based decisions, I believe that listening to our gut has never been more vital. And the good news is that intuition is like a muscle, it can be strengthened with intentional practice.

So next time you get a new brief in, don’t start with the data. Or with Google. Listen to your gut, and draw on every experience you have ever had, and everything you know (without knowing that you know it). Bring your GI to the AI party, and use your unique combination of EQ and IQ to make more meaningful innovations and ideas in this brave and exciting new world that we find ourselves living in.

Clare Hutchinson is the chief strategy officer for VCCP Group


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