Who knew strategic planning had so much in common with looking up the anal cavities of baby chicks? I’ve been reading Moonwalking With Einstein, by Joshua Foer (he of the famous brother) and while much of the book deals with our working memory and why we do, or do not, remember certain things, there is a partuclar section on how our experiences allow us to make snap judgements (very reminicent of Gladwell’s Blink).
Foer uses chicken sexing experts as his example (apparently it can be quite difficult to spot a baby chick’s sex?), and this is where I see the parellel to strategic planning. There are so many things in this industry that can not be learned. Sure, you can go to school and get a degree, but that doesn’t mean you are adequately prepared for the daily uncertainty of cultural strategy. That’s why, when we are hiring, it’s nice to see you have some form of degree (just as it’s helpful to have a degree from the Zen Nippon Chick Sexing School), but we really need to know how you can think and act on your feet when thrown into the fire with clients.
You cant teach intuition and it doesn’t come with a degree, so planners must be able to observe the world around them and understand how this is going to effect their brands. You have to make some brave calls. All the evidence wont always be there, but you have to trust in yourself. If you are wrong, well at least you tried and maybe your agency gets fired. But if you are Chick Sexing and you are wrong you are condemning the wrong baby chick to death.
This self trust I speak of is at the core of this book, which explains how experts use their memories to see the world differently. We build up a bank of experiences that helps us process information differently — enabling a slight perceptual shift. So be confident in what you know. When someone thrusts the anus of a baby chick in your face make a call — and go with it. You will be right more often than you are wrong (and if you aren’t, well then you wont last long in this industry).