The Week: Best of the blogs - How planning reached 40

Only planners would have spent the summer celebrating their 40th birthday. The Johnny-come-lately of the advertising world has always felt the need to prove its contribution and celebrate its survival.

As indulgent as it may have seemed, this bout of navel-gazing gives us a clue why planning has survived. Like anyone wrestling with a mid-life crisis, the greatest thing that planners fear is losing the youthful exuberance of the discipline and settling down with a pipe and slippers to a life of predictability.

The truth is, becoming part of the agency furniture is not just the greatest testament to planning's success, it is also its greatest threat. Planning has prospered for one reason alone: we are utterly dispensable and are at our best when we know it.

Only a fool would suggest that you need planners to create powerful and effective work. Not only was our business famous for delivering powerful and effective work long before planning arrived on the scene, but it also authored some of the most admired strategic ideas of all time.

The reason that planning was created and continues to have value is that it increases the likelihood of producing powerful and effective work. If it is doing this, then it has a potent role in the agency and a right to be part of its future. If it isn't, then it's probably time to pension off the planners and spend your money on a few more Swedish creative teams.


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