How will we know if our ideas will fly?

Training in strategic thinking is a cash cow. Every issue of the major business magazines is brimming over with ads from universities offering courses to aspiring or current C-suite people. Strategy is, I believe, the single biggest gap in the advertising sector (knowledge of financials is a deficit common to most business function: hence why most CEOs were CFOs). I’m not talking about the common lament of  the excessive day-to-day focus that we all experience to some degree or other. instead, I’m thinking of how we can use business models, decision-making tools, and a sequenced data flow to test our predictions, to check our take on things.

In teaching Social Psychology, I’ve started using game examples to illustrate how we need to expose our ideas to stress-testing. Chevron’s Energyville is a neat example of how scenario planning can be couples with software to enable people to see the range and scale of consequences of their preferences. I admit that referring to games in business can often evoke one of two reactions: the person has a horrible recall of game theory from their undergrad Economics course. This just scares them into shutdown. The second is to think of sweaty teenage boys concentrating intently over a dungeons and dragon set-up while scratching their facial fluff. A third, and more adaptive description, is to look at how major organisations use scenario planning to probe their understanding of their position and what they would do to meet a competitive threat.

Planners should work to think about tangible ways to scenario plan, and to use software or other tools that are meaningful and accessible to clients. Leaving this to planners is a cop-out, though: account managers and directors could use this piece of kit to work alongside the client, and to enable client and agency to merge different perspectives on their marketing plans.

Posted by Ken.

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