As 2020 dawned, it was only supposed to be another year. But in the very beginning, he caught an ogre from an infection that went viral at the speed of a sneeze, stopping the whole world in its tracks. The corona sports alpha has become a pandemic, having a date with history.
2021 was supposed to be the year that would bring respite from the frenzy of death and devastation, in the form of a shot in the arm and a return to normalcy prefixed with “new”. Everything that happened was an ever-expanding river of pain that meandered towards a delta.
In anguished resignation, 2022 was greeted without hope or fanfare, but that didn’t stop it from attracting a new variant of the Greek alphabet. It was a softer, gentler avatar, but the global disruptions causing panic and deja vu are anything but.
And so on. Year after year, the world is constantly in the emergency room due to strains of mutant ninja, global critical care trade and industry due to intermittent lockdowns, and the hopes and aspirations of the international community die an unnatural death.
The pandemic is not everything. Add to that the economic roller coaster, political trampolines and climate change bombs, and the world emerges as a terrifying, complex and unpredictable platform on which to conduct the business of life. And the biggest challenge is making sense of the chaos around us and planning for a future that seems increasingly fluid and confusing.
The time-tested ritual of planning for a new year at the start of this one, whether for individuals, businesses or government, has been hit the hardest. The systematized process of pursuing dreams, aspirations and challenges now finds itself at the crossroads of unpredictability and ambiguity. How do you exploit opportunities and find answers for the future when the underlying terrain is constantly changing?
One way out of the current quagmire is to adopt certain qualities or characteristics of a planner, elevating planning as a way of life, whether in the personal or professional realm. It would help change the way we think, act, learn and lead. These practices also help you connect with the purpose of building a better life and future. The key is not to choose, but to use them all in tandem so that their impact is greater than the sum of their parts.
Develop x-ray vision
Go deep with your vision, hear with your eyes. Sometimes the most powerful communication between individuals and within a group is the non-verbal type. If you’re competing with them in speaking or are distracted by other people or voices, chances are you’re missing 90% of what’s actually being communicated.
Grow resonant ears
It’s not about having ears on the walls, but about having the ability to virtually hear through the walls. What people usually say and mean are two different things. It’s best not to get caught up in someone’s spoken words. The tone and manner in which these words are spoken could communicate the real message even stronger and more clearly.
Be an Xplorer
If you base your understanding of people primarily on theory, whether by browsing books or jumping from research to research, you will only be able to plan theoretically. True awareness or insight can only be gleaned by exploring and integrating with the real world so that you experience what people are going through. If you want to know how a lion hunts, go to the jungle, not the zoo.
Inspire the imagination
Understanding human behavior is not the only job of those involved in planning. They are at the fulcrum, distilling ideas and presenting them in a way that creatives are inspired to dream up breakthrough creative solutions. All the intelligence in the world is of no use to creators if it doesn’t ignite a spark under the seat of their pants.
Ride the instinct
Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, because human behavior is rarely predictable. When analyzing digital data won’t get you any further and no further, you need to back up your instincts, crane your neck, and step out onto a branch. You never know, you might stumble upon a whole new way to approach the problem, provided you are able to see it through. Instinct is an unlearned ability.
To be curious
The world is constantly changing. Circumstances change, perspectives change, people change. For someone to remain static in an ever-changing dynamic world would be like having a predefined answer to every problem. This is precisely why, they must have a perpetually inquisitive mindset, asking more relevant questions than providing practical answers. Don’t leave any answers unchallenged.
be a player
Creativity is not predictable. It’s not always nice either. Human emotions are quite a difficult bridge to cross. There are times when an idea may be bigger and bolder than focus groups or quantitative numbers may suggest. People who plan must have the wisdom and magnanimity to accept this. Play, otherwise you will be played.
Have an open mind
Understanding people and judging them are two opposite ends of the spectrum. It becomes essential to see things from several angles and not just their own. The perspectives may be consistent with the hypothesis, radically different, or nonsense. The important thing is to accept the infinite possibilities. This is the only way to introduce new things.
Cultivate a mothering ability
In these times of blind alternatives and the compulsion to play the numbers game, it pays to nurture and protect brilliant ideas as if they were your own children. As much as possible, explore ways to improve an idea that has potential and not resort to eliminating them by being hasty in your judgment.
be a hunter
Collecting information is no longer enough. It is passive, time-consuming and imbued with a subjective component from the many respondents and collectors. We must hunt down forecasts beyond ideas, without pity. It’s about killing faster.
Be a chameleon
There are no limits on how well you plan. You have to blend seamlessly from the real world into the world of brands and marketing, and then step back. They could be ground zero gauging how people are reacting to the product or service, and the next day chatting in the boardroom, helping sell innovative ideas that will transform the brand or business.
Be a passionate lover
Unlimited passion is something that is non-negotiable if you plan for the future. The love of good ideas, the love of strategy, the love of creativity, the love of business, are intrinsic characteristics that you must have. In addition to being as proud of the work that is produced as the teams that produce it.
Ultimately, we are in a time where the past doesn’t matter much, the present is riddled with confusion, and the future is uncertain and unpredictable. Planning anything in life under these circumstances is fraught with pitfalls and risks failure.
The solution to democratizing planning as a way of life is not to prescribe how to plan for specific situations, but rather to imbibe and inculcate certain characteristics and qualities of planning that will help people live and plan. their life as a professional planner. And in doing so, take a stand on the planning of the chaos called life.
(The author is Chief Strategy Officer – Apac, MullenLowe Group)