1. Thomas Wagner

    Hi Martin (thought it would be polite to say hi, as it’s my first comment here).
    When I read this post I immediately had to think of W+Ks Honda book and the discussion that ensued on Russell’s blog way back when (http://russelldavies.typepad.com/planning/2006/09/my_schtick.html). I wondered how it relates to what you’re writing about here. Because while I’d say the book definitely reduces, selects, focuses and communicates purpose I have some trouble calling this reductionism. So my question is basically what your POV is on this? Reductionism in the thinking process before and allowing for complexity in the briefing and creative thinking later on?

  2. Martin Weigel

    Hey Thomas,
    Thanks for coming by.
    I think you’ve summarized it rather nicely. And (ironically) have reduced it down to something far more pithy than my post:
    “Reductionism in the thinking process before and allowing for complexity in the briefing and creative thinking later on.”
    In truth, I think the most valuable application of reductionism is in answering the question “what exactly is it we are trying to do?” or “what exactly is the role of communications in solving this issue?”
    My own prejudice is that we still rush too quickly into trying to answer “what shall we say?” or (if you’re more progressive) “what shall we do?” without a clear sense of what the task really is. And we all know that “raise awareness” really isn’t a definition of anything!

  3. northern

    Hello, first time here too.
    Honda’s an interesting case study – as far as I know they still had to reduce the problem down into something simple – make Honda’s reliability desirable rather than dull.
    I guess the weakness of lots of planning is the need to look ‘creative’ and miss out the boring hard work and rigour that goes on before all that. Sometimes I wish planners would try to come accross as more dull sometimes

  4. Martin Weigel

    Hello, welcome and thanks for visiting!
    Wholeheartedly agree. Any fool can polish a proposition. But I’ve always believed that the real test of a planner’s craft is framing the problem rigorously and imaginatively – and with that identifying precisely the role for communications (in its broadest sense) in solving it. Which is of course not the same as proposition noodling!
    In the rush to be groovy ‘useful dullness’ is often vastly underrated…

  5. Michael

    Hello Martin,
    Just arrived here via Rob’s blog commenting on your recent “unknown” entry, and this entry here’s also hitting on something I have thought about a lot recently.
    Suprising or not, clients are often not good at knowing or even sharp and precisely articulating what their issue actually is. They should, but at least here in Japan, they often just don’t. They might have a vague ideas sometimes…
    Planners need to start as early as there. If you have got a clear vision on what it really is, everything subsequent will get much easier. And it will give you confidence to allow coherence, instead of stupid “consistency”.
    If you forget to dig there first, you’ll definitely get lost later on.
    “useful dullness”. Like the humility.
    Refreshingly different from “Rockstar Planner”, a dreadful term I saw somewhere recently.
    Anyway, I Decided I should come here more often.

  6. Paul

    Wonderful article / post. Any other books you recommend on planning? Paul
    P.S. Agree lots of clients don’t know what their problem is. (And they hate to say something is not a priority.)

  7. Martin Weigel

    Glad you enjoyed it, Paul.
    I don’t think there many good ones.
    ‘A Masterclass In Brand Planning: The Timeless Works Of Stephen King is a notable exception. Brilliant, timeless, superbly wise, it’s absolutely essential reading for any planner.
    Jon Steel’s ‘Truth, Lies and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning’ is worth a read, if you haven’t already.
    And the winning papers from the APG Planning Awards and the IPA Effectiveness Awards are a fabulous source.
    But beyond this, I think the best thing a planner can do is NOT read about planning but about everything else, given that knowledge of the outside world and how it works is where planning begins.
    And I’d encourage reading beyond all the obvious stuff (the Gladwells and Shirkys of this world) that everybody else is reading.
    Hope that’s useful!