🍣 10 tips to work more effectively with planners
According to *checks notes* a planner.
Everything i write, i do thinking of what i wish i had read when i was younger. Hell, sometimes even the things i wish i’d see more of now. It's as much about learning, as it is about nudging whoever is reading.
So, in celebration of this wonderful class of people with glasses (often) and weird facts (always) called planners, i thought i’d share 10 tips for working with them more effectively.
It sounds boring, but indeed start with why. Why are we doing this? Why this instead of some other activity? It might not sound like a productive way to spend the first few minutes (hours?) of a project, but productivity is not the point. Finding common sources of meaning and emotional investment is. An invested planner that starts a bit later will run laps around a half-minded one that began yesterday.
Assume long documents will make them chuckle. On the other hand, understand this is because there is a narrative around planning that a brief that isn’t brief is, well, a long, and this is hard to overcome. Also, there is a difference between simply chuckling at a 79-page document, and actually then feeling compelled to read and summarise it anyway. Our first reactions don’t predict how deeply we’ll care. (Which, by the way, is a lesson i learned from observing some creative teams.)
Give them space to explore. The most effective planners, from what i’ve seen, don’t fall on the class of ‘i’m gonna go away and work it out’. It’s the opposite, they want to have a sounding board for their crazy shit, and effectively rule out all the ‘not quite right ideas’ with you so that you can build the banger ones instead. Basically, indulge your planners’ whims for a bit. It usually pays off later.
Know what kind of planner they are. This one might be a follow up to the previous point, but i’ve worked with planners who need clear direction, others who just need a general direction of travel. Some planners are more about blowing out a brief with possibility, while others are more about tying it down into the clearest possible expression of a problem. All of these are part of the job, what matters is knowing which type of ‘default brain’ you’re working with.
Don’t call them the smart ones. This one always annoys me, because (1) it creates a weird sense of pressure, and (2) is deeply disrespectful to everyone else. I don’t see planners as the smart ones, but rather the ones that can help bring out the smartness in everyone else (including clients). Sure, there is one type of smarts in doing that, but that means the planner is expected to be more of a facilitator, than a solver on whose shoulders everything must rest. Make sure they are aware of this. A problem shared is a problem halved, and all that.
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