The Role of Planning Isn’t to Inspire Creatives

Today, I discovered the Podcast ‘On Strategy Showcase’ through a LinkedIn post about Martin Weigel’s interview. The post said, “the role of Planning isn’t to inspire creatives, but to POINT imagination and resources to the right tasks that matter… we need more conversations that get the industry focused on usefulness, not just inspiration.”

To which I responded, “YES YES.” If you’ve worked with me as a Planner, and the topic of our role as Planners has come up, it’s likely I shared an opinion in the same vein. I think the root of finding “tasks that matter” lives in tension taming. I wrote more on “Taming Tensions” here a few years ago.

Here’s the podcast link and bullets of what popped for me after getting the audio transcribed from Martin’s interview:

Title: “W+K’s Martin Weigel on our industry’s unhealthy fetish with “insight” and other pitfalls for strategists”

  • …truths that everybody recognizes are becoming the real new currency of planning.
  • …what’s the sort of the common thread that goes across all of your writings. And I remember you said indignation and, you know, it’s, it is interesting to, you know, the definition of indignation. I had to look it up to make sure I had it right here. It is an annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair.
  • …because you always seem to be bringing, trying to bring reality back into the, into this industry. And I wonder if it is rooted in the fact that you started off in reality
  • …the oversupply of utter self-serving bullshit in our industry… personal feedback loop of indignation because it, it says, Martin, you, you know, you still give a shit and you’re, you’re still alive.
  • …I’m not sure if our job is to inspire. I think it’s, You know, if the creative engine can’t start itself on the cold winter’s day, I wanna get a more reliable car.
  • I think the role of planning is point imaginations and resources that tasks that matter [17:26]… to point problem solvers at the, at the right task so they can have maximum, maximum effect.
  • Identifying and articulating framing that task with imagination and rigor is, you know, that’s the heart of the planners, a planner’s role.
  • The essence of strategy as many, many wise people I’ve observed is the art of choice. It’s the art of finding the point of greatest leverage. You know, when there are many points that you could point imaginations out, it’s finding the one where the imagination can have its greatest effect and solve the problem.
  • It’s about perspective.
  • Most advertising gets ignored by people because it ignores them.
  • I think we are, I think from time to time, we are dangerously blind to our, either our disconnect or our difference… the data there shows quite clearly that people in advertising are richer, whiter, more middle class, more privately educated, and more male than the general population – richer, whiter, more middle class, more privately educated, and more male than the general population… that’s a problem, right?
  • If you let it, the world will do most of the work for you.
  • …popular culture still exists in a world of overly fragmentation and personalization.
  • …it strikes me that there there’s, there’s vastly more insight into the human psyche in the fiction section of your book shop than will ever be in the archives of any marketing department, vastly, vastly.
  • …change is our real deliverable. That’s what we create for clients. We create new futures. We, we, you know, if somebody wants, we fold the future into the present we make today, we make tomorrow different from today. That’s the job at hand that is the only job at hand is to make tomorrow different from today.
  • It could only effect thinking if we began the process by asking ourselves what is the change we want to create in the world? What are the objectives both hard and soft across different timelines? How will we measure progress towards that?

Alix Morrow is the Founder and Chief-Make-It-Happenator at AlixCompany based in Austin, Texas. AlixCompany helps brands move the meter from thinking to knowing by truly getting in-stream with consumers in today’s marketplace. For more information on our qualitative, quantitative, and planner-for-awhile (PFA) services please visit