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#Firestarters 2: Design Thinking In Planning

So, as you may know, Google asked me to curate a series of events for them designed to facilitate different thinking and debate around some of the more interesting and challenging issues facing planners today and our inaugral #Firestarters event in April, on the subject of Agile Planning, seems to have got off to a flying start, generating much good discussion and a lot of buzz.

Event 2 is now upon us, and this time we're focusing on the subject of Design Thinking in Planning. Not least because it builds nicely on some key themes that came out from the first event: the value of iteration, the idea of curating the spread of ideas and of the 'lean' agency. There's been some interesting debate around the subject recently, but there are plenty of reasons why the principles and philosophy behind Design Thinking are more relevant than ever – particularly as a human-centred approach that has customer insight and feedback at it's heart. And one that recombines, builds and iterates to understand rather than simply analyse. As planning increasingly moves towards designing not just communications, but experiences (and the idea of advertising as what Russell Davies once called 'pre-experience design'), might Design Thinking help us to help brands work smarter and in more collaborative ways with their customers?

I certainly think there's plenty of scope for a discussion around the focus on convergent thinking that is all about making choices in planning, versus the idea of a shift towards creating as many choices as possible for clients. Perhaps the real potential might even be for it to help move planning back up the foodchain into product innovation and design, thinking about the role that planners can have in engineering peer-to-peer promotion actually built in to products.

Anyways, as before we've got a couple of stellar speakers: Tom Hulme, Global Design Director at IDEO and one of the Wired 100, and John Willshire who at the first event set the open space session on fire with his thinking around how advertising is not the thing that you do, but the story of the things you've done – how we get too hung up on continuity and how lots of interesting innovative ideas in the short-term builds longterm effects regardless of consistency (his great post on reverberation and amplification captures some of this).

As before, the objective here is not to sell Google but rather to extend that debate out and facilitate some good discussion around a subject which I believe is enormously relevant to the practice of planning. The event will be held at Google UK on the 21st June. It's invite only but I have some guest passes to give away to Only Dead Fish readers – if you'd like one then please e-mail me and I will notify the successful applicants.

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