Eat The World.
The Planner’s Canvas -- Part II
Account Planners and Strategists thrive in chaos and fluidity. The great ones, however, typically don't come up with innovative thinking out of thin air. They internalize and process the world around them in ways most people can't, and add their own perspective and experience into the mix. Good planners seem to always be aggregating raw material “inputs” from the world around them and from what they already know. It's like they eat the world, and then spit out new and amazing things we've never thought of before.
Some of the Planners and Strategists I follow -- Chris Anderson, Paul Saffo, Ben Malbon, Dr. Pamela Rutledge, Edward Boches, Farrah Bostick, Rick Liebling, as well as [wire] stone's own Paul Marobella, to name just a few -- inspire me as a Planner to make [wire] stone a place where pushing the envelop (not just winging it) is the norm.
To help us get to that lofty place I introduced the The Planner’s Canvas Part I (Download Planning_canvas_cal_rd6). Today's post deconstructs Phase 1 of the Canvas and explains why Raw Inputs are so important for Planners.
Phase 1 is about Raw Inputs. They come from the extermal world all around us, as well as the Planner's own experience. Aggregating a thick stream of raw inputs creates a 360 degree perspective of the brand's problem or challenge, and enables the Planner to sift through peripheral information and focus on core, relevant, charged elements of a storyline that could unfold. Raw Inputs also help frame key questions the Planner is tasked with answering:
Inputs from The External World
- Filtered and unfiltered data and information about the brand, competitors, and its objectives / challenges;
- What cultural (i.e., economic; social; political) factors should be considered?
- Basics about the people the brand is most interested in connecting with.
Inputs from The Planner's Own Experience
- What is the Planner’s installed base of knowledge regarding the brand and its customers?
- How does the planner perceive the “voice of the customer”?
- What subjective opinions or perspectives does the planner incorporate into the project?
- What other relevant personal information or perspective is germane?
Raw Inputs are the building blocks all Planner's need to internalize to make sense of the challenges and opportunities a client is asking the agency to figure out. I've placed Raw Inputs at the center of the Canvas because everything the Planner does flows from them. Raw Inputs is visualized as two yin- and yang-like spaces the Planner fills in to prepare for diving into Phase 2 -- creating a core hypothesis, conducting research, and performing analysis. The stuff all well-respected Planners love to do. I'll describe Phase 2 in detail in my next post.
For now, a couple of additional key points on what the Canvas is and how to use it:
- What it does
Its best and highest use is to help the Planner map his/her role in the process of generating the driving forces behind great marketing. As such, it's a tool to lead teams in this process. For lone practitioners as well as Planners and creatives with robust teams of strategists, researchers, and analysts, the Canvas is both a blueprint for identifying the right work to be done and a roadmap and process for getting the work done right.
- How to use it
Like the Business Model Generation canvas from which this was birthed, the Planner's Canvas is designed to be projected as an image -- or printed and taped to -- a conference room wall, so that it facilitates the creation of an organized, well thought-out wellspring of new thoughts and ideas. Filling in each section of the Canvas results in a comprehensive roadmap creatives and technologists use to develop differentiated, innovative campaigns.
- Mindspace -- a critical part of the process
You'll see Mindspace called out in several places between process stages. What is Mindspace, and why is it important? Strong Planners are a unique aggregation of analyst, creative, engineer, psychologist, sociologist, politician, and intellectual athlete. But to make sense of market and consumer fluidity, smart Planners know they need time to think and process – what I'm calling Mindspace -- time or distance away from the project that enables the mental freedom for good ideas to simmer into great ones; for disparate issues to gel into into something that makes sense; to disrupt one train of thought in favor of a new opinion, derived from a vetting cycle. Mindspace is the fuel for igniting the best in our creative and productive selves. If you’ve gathered the troops for a one-day brainstorm, take a lunch break outside of the war room after creating the repository of knowledge. If you’re working on a six-month strategic discovery and believe you’ve hit a wall and don’t have true insights, call a time out and come back to the project in a week. While it’s only a dotted line on the Canvas, and many marketers and Planners take it for granted, the recommendation here is to do exactly the opposite.
I want -- and need -- your feedback to make the Canvas and the Planner's process better. Comments and recommendations accepted any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for your help.