30 Jun 2006

planning above and beyond

What a great day! Spectacular John Griffiths of Planning Above and Beyond was here in out very city, training a bunch of planners&co. As Bogdana and Costin have already written (since they’ve had the training yesterday), the course was pretty much about basics of planning we were already familiar with. Which didn’t matter a single bit, as far as i am concerned. The extremely charismatic style of presentation, the loads of tips and tricks, the spicy case studies and account recollections, all in all, the mark of both a great experience and personality have gone way beyond the theoretical background he introduced, thus making the workshop really interesting, thought-provoking and useful. Not to mention inspirational and motivating. It’s such a pleasure for me to listen to such passionate brilliant people talking about planning – they simply put a smile on my face, which i cannot wipe for quite a while afterwards.

Now, Costin is right: it would take a whole day to write about all ideas taken out of this course, so i’m gonna try to be as brief as possible.

The main idea of the training, regardless of how aware we were of it before, was that planning is all about adding value. Actually, it’s more than that, cause if you don’t add value, you just add cost. The fact that i’m sure many of us still forget about this tiny detail many times only makes another small observation in the training really useful: the importance of us understanding the business model of the agency we’re working in. This might be common sense, but, again, it’s something i’m sure many of us don’t practice too much.

We also talked about us planners being insecure and neurotic cause nobody actually needs us, or, better said, “you don’t need a planner to do an ad”, but then again, you don’t necessarily need a creative team either to do an ad (and here i tend to agree with him, Bogdana, because even if you’re very right about art directors, still, i believe one could have great copy ads, which are not that difficult to arrange in a page). So we don’t have to despair or something, but realize that our job comes down to finding where we are supposed to add value. Actually, to realize that what we’re doing is not necessarily a job, but more precisely a way of working, which implies a number of “responsibilities” – and if anybody else wants to do planning in any other department (which they often do), that’s cool, and we should allow them, only making sure that those responsibilities are covered, therefore the campaign development process is carefully covered. In brief, (and i know damn well whom i’m writing this for) the planning role is collaborative, not competitive, and it’s very ok if others compete to fulfill it. That’s why we should also keep in mind the importance of sharing ideas, of blogs, of staying open-minded, rather than afraid people are out to get your ideas, tools and so on.

And there was another interesting discussion about the difference between creative brief and creative briefing. At least, it was very interesting for me, cause i suffer a lot from this point of view in my agency, as far as both the way in which and the place where briefing is done are concerned. I can only hope that i’ll triumph one day and routine will be broken. But thing is, creatives can read and if you only read out loud the brief for them, you only have a reading session, and not a briefing, which should be an inspiring, creative process. For example, John said he used to evaluate how good his briefing was by how fast the creatives left the room. Cause if you do a great job as a planner when briefing, they’ll get ideas during the session, and they’ll be willing to get out of there as soon as possible to discuss about them.

There’ve been lost of planning triangles (obviously), some nice exercises and guesses, tools, tips and tricks, funny accounts on why we shouldn’t be afraid to get inspiration from anything, reminders like “we people use emotions to make shortcuts, to decide faster” and “don’t ignore the creatives’ attitude towards the brand, when briefing”, links to stories and trends, lots of important distinctions between concepts...and there were so many other interesting things: after all, that’s what a great speaker is all about; even if he tells you basics you already know (and in fact, i knew most of the slides from his site), he does it so intensely and thought-provoking that you actually get out of the room with loads of thoughts, most of them which only had the speaker’s observations as starting points. In brief, basic maybe, but entertaining and useful for sure. Oh, and something else i really liked was his observation that we (Romanians) are not alone in our frustrations. Many, many parts of the world are facing lack of training and information in account planning, and that’s why planning is actually a worldwide (collaborative) community.

The thing i regret the most is that this course was only the skeleton of a three-day course, so there was probably so much more to learn from it, but well...hopefully John returns sometime and does something about it :). As for other local planners, i met a few new, and i’m hoping to meet a few more very soon, though i must admit it feels a little awkward to know that it took a foreigner to get us meet, talk to each other and maybe join for a drink, and we couldn’t do this earlier.

Anyway, huge thanks again to John (i’m so glad we could meet and so flattered :) ), and to those who made it possible for me to be there. pics as soon as blogger gets nicer to me and allows me to.

1 comment:

cristina said...

Great! I'm so happy you had a productive session full of ideas and motivation! I'm really with you in all that "creative process" which should have a proper briefing - inspirational, collaborative, enthusiastic and why not refeshing. Since we so much want to produce different work I can not see why this can not start whith a different way of doing things? Good luck with changing something where I couldn't!