I received an email yesterday from Wouter, a fellow Amsterdam planner, and he thought it would be interesting to know all of our definitions of planning. Several other people mentioned this in their comments as well.
I think there’s a bit of a hole in our collective psyches for much of the navel gazing that happens at the planning conference or when we’re lucky enough to speak to a group or interact with student planners. So if you’ll indulge me, I’m going to wax poetic on the topic today.
There are a couple of core ideas I have about planning. The first I took from Diane Miles, the VP of Human Resources at one of my first jobs between undergrad and grad as an HR recruiter at SicolaMartin in Austin. A really beautiful person, she had me screening resumes, scheduling interviews and checking references. Seeing all those resumes for jobs across the agency really helped me with the soul searching I was doing at the time to find where I fit in to adland. She taught me a lot about proactivity with this great Texas phrase – “get your fingers in the chili.”
Just get started, make some noise, offer to help. All those kind of projects and directions were followed by “you know, get your fingers in the chili.” I think planning is a lot like that because ideas are going to happen without us. Anyone too full of themselves to see that is plain wrong. If you read any London creatives’ blogs it’s their position that better ideas WOULD happen without us. Planning is about adding something to the chili to make it better. Hopefully you all know that chili is this Texas stew-type food, made of tomatoes, meats, beans, other veg, spices. There are all kinds of variations inspiring many a chili cook-off to find the best. Every Texan has strong opinions about what makes for good chili.
If planners come from the perspective that we are additive and unnecessary, I think only then do we have the proper mindset to really make a difference. I’ve always seen my role as a muse. Not the fickle ones that poets bemoan the absence of, more a modern muse who can actually see the synapses fire in the minds of others and adapts her methods to provide inspiration.
And hand in hand with that is the need to be a magpie, collecting stories and thinking from across your world experience, finding joy and purpose in that collecting, so that you have the ammunition to change the way other people think.