The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

What Can Planners Learn From A Creatives Choice Of Music …

Sam, one of my creative colleagues, excitedly sent me a song that he said, clearly explains the relationship creatives have with planners.

He did add ‘bad planners’, but he was only feeling guilty after I bought him a Kit Kat.

While it would be easy to say he’s a prick – and he is, but more in his general behaviour and attitude than this moment of cheek – his point is an important one for planners to remember.

Our job is to be useful to the creatives.

Doesn’t matter what sort of creative they are – ad, design, tech, industrial, the answer is the same …


Not dictatorial.

Not demanding.

But actually helping them to do something interesting rather than just right.

That means giving them the right problem to solve rather than the answer you want.

That means talking to them about the brief rather than presenting it to them.

That means understanding the nuance of culture not the generalisations.

That means giving them a direction rather than a specific destination.

That means remembering your job doesn’t stop when creative development starts.

That means always looking for ways to give them more stuff that can expand or deepen their idea rather than think ‘working with the creatives’ means sitting with them and pretending you are one of them”.

That means building things up, not tearing things down.

That means focusing on the work, not your ego.

That means being open rather than closed.

That means pushing creativity not agendas.

That means being clear, not complicated.

That means giving space not pressure.

That means loving the fuck out the work.

32 Comments so far
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For all the “how to be a planner” conversations that are on twitter right now, this is more practical and valuable than most of them. It is also focused on getting to the best work, which much of the advice fails to mention. I would imagine this is because they haven’t made any. I still believe you evaluate strategists on the problems they define and the work they helped to create. Your advice plays to both those.

Comment by George

Hahahaha … yes, I’ve been talking about this a lot.

A lot of people explaining strategic models where the work that should come out of it is never mentioned [or they basically explain what the work should be, as if they’re some sort of all conquering god] … or when they do talk about the work, it’s focused on following best practice rather than moving brands and culture forwards.

It feels we are in the era of intellectual inflation, where the output isn’t measured in ideas that challenge and push business and culture forward … but god complex.

Comment by Rob

I like Sam. Unfortunately I like this post as well.

Comment by Bazza

I am assuming Rob likes Sam. A a stranger would never get that from his description of him, but I know that’s a sign of praise. I also assume that is why he bought him a KitKat. Because he knew he was going to write this character assassination and he wanted to offset any guilt he would feel for doing it. Now that’s planning. ; )

Comment by Pete

That does sound like his sort of mischief.

Comment by George

I bought KitKats for everyone I sat with every day. Only way to get them to acknowledge my existence. Got to say, COVID-19 quarantine has saved me a fortune. Hahahaha.

But yes, I do like Sam a lot. He’s annoying as fuck but talented in a way where you look at the work he – and his partner – create and wonder how the hell they got to that idea, while being excited they did.

Comment by Rob

Between today’s post where you admit to buying people’s favour and yesterday’s post where you talk about your freebies, you are resembling a mafiosi more and more each day. Will tomorrow be a post about sending horses heads to enemies?

Comment by George

I forgot, you did that recently as well. Except it was not to an enemy, even though the reaction was what I would imagine would be similar.

Comment by George

What do you mean “resembling mafiosi”? But what am I missing with the horses head story?

Comment by Bazza

I thought you knew this Baz?

When I found out a mate of mine was going to settle his long-term legal case out of court, I had a full size, horses head made and then organised to have it placed in his bed on the day he signed the deal. He found it nowhere near as funny as me. And I had gone to quite a lot of expense and effort to get it done. Ungrateful sod. Ha.

Comment by Rob

With friends like you….. etc.

Didn’t you do something like that before with the same result? Do you learn from your mistakes?

Comment by Bazza

I did try and warn you Rob.

Comment by Pete

Yes you did Pete … I know, I know.

And yes Baz, I did do something like this before … for a friend who had twin girls to go with his triplet daughters who were born just over a year before.

But instead of getting him a horses head, it was a 1976, beige brown Volvo [with a bow on it] that had a note on it stating this was ‘the newest car he will ever be able to afford to drive’.

It took me almost 2 years to get his friendship back … though George was also complicit in this, so I feel the horses head was my attempt to strike out on my own in terms of utter stupidity, hahaha.

Comment by Rob

I am amazed anyone acknowledges your existence anymore. But compared to the evil you’ve done to others, I feel I got off pretty light. #Winning

Comment by Bazza

Or could it be because I liked them more than you … to which you should be happy I don’t like you as much as them. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

asshole fucking comment to baz. i like it.

Comment by andy@cynic

This thread of comments reminds me why I like Rob and why I’m scared of him.

Comment by DH

Why are you buying anyone a KitKat? Who are you?

Comment by Bazza

This is great Rob. So much of the discipline promotes what planners should do when arguably, it is the attitude you have throughout the process that helps deliver the most interesting ideas and work.

Comment by Pete

A planners state of mind is a nice way to look at this. But then it only works if they know what good ideas and work actually is. That requires education, experience and an an open mind. What I am seeing is too many planners being obsessed with tools and answers versus taste and inspiration.

Comment by George

Well said. The narrative of strategy tends to focus on curiosity when discovery is far more valuable for driving the standard of work you create.

Comment by Pete

Oh I like this a lot. All absolutely right.

My creative taste was expanded by great people I worked for and with. Pushing my boundaries and expectations. It was far more valuable to the work I have helped be a part of than any of the processes I’ve learnt along the way. Not that they’re not valuable … but they tend to be focused on getting to an end point rather than getting to the most interesting and intriguing end point. Which is why creative taste is so important. It lets you shape and filter to interestingly right rather than just accurate.

Comment by Rob

I really like your use of the word accuracy. It feels much more representative of what many strategists strive to be these days.

Comment by George

That’s it exactly George.

Comment by Pete

Great post Rob. Your last line is the key line.

Comment by Joey Cartwright

Guessing you’re a creative Joey.
Regardless, you’re not wrong.

Comment by Rob

I’m always pleased to have read your last line.

Comment by John

Asshole. Hahahaha.

Comment by Rob

creatives taught you that. dont forget that campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by DH

Only thing he leant.

Comment by Billy Whizz

[…] in their life versus how the client would like them to use it. Means allowing the creatives to solve the problem we’ve identified rather than dictating the answer. Means being resonant, not relevant. Means having a point of view. Means dreaming of what it could […]

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