I met a grad recently who asked me how I approach planning. I hadn’t really thought about it much as I do lots of types of planning – from user-experience to data to brand to strategy to business planning and all things in-between.
But I promised her I would write up something. Here it is.
Sometimes when I am working on a problem I need to stay focused. On the big picture. Not the details.
I am unable to make sense of the relative importance of what I am trying to understand in the detail. It won’t make sense without the bigger picture to contextualize it.
Mostly I make a leap of imagination and trust my instincts - and then commission the truth back to the problem. Tweaking and binning stuff as I go. Changing tack completely if the details tell me I am wrong.
The art is to start. And it doesn’t matter where really – as long as you start.
Remember, there is no absolute truth merely information shaped by the context in which it is delivered. You have get good at knowing which truth fits the details best. This comes with practice. And instinct. And humility. I base my target audience mostly on myself and my friends. Because they cover most of the audiences I am asked to think about. And their behaviour doesnt lie. Mostly.
When I am sure that my one version of an infinite number of truths works - only then do I focus on the details. I trace them all the way back to the business problem. But I still have the bigger picture in my head.
Good planning starts with an instinctive hypothesis and uses research to back it up. You can wade through tranches of information then try to make sense of it afterwards if you prefer. Either works. The first works better though. And quicker.
The best planners are those that instinctively know the sweet spot before they start. So they can get to work fast. The worst ask their research department to do it for them. Then agonize over what it means.
Develop peripheral vision, trust your instincts then use only the details you need to be convincing. The rest might be interesting – but it won’t be useful.
Not sure if that helps – just what I know works for me.