IQ Planning, EQ Planning and Planning Processes

Posted on July 31, 2007



Jason Oke at Leo Burnett Toronto has written a post about his perspective on planning processes, which he shared in the account planning class of the Miami Ad School, Minneapolis. It makes me happy to read posts like this. I sense hope.  

In his post, Jason also points to five ‘seemingly’ obvious principles for planners. Seemingly I say because I don’t think these can be emphasized firmly enough as a majority of these tends to be forgotten in the grind of daily office madness and ridiculous time constraints. Go and read Jason’s post here.

“I guess the closest we can come to a process is to be open to things when they do happen and seeing where everything takes you.”

This is planning to me. It sums it up. And it indirectly speaks of the need to approach client briefs with gut-feel and intuition first and foremost before the left brain gets switched on to analyze, rationalize and validate intuitively driven thoughts and hypotheses. Now don’t get me wrong, planners definitely need to use both hemispheres of the brain. A lot. But as much as IQ is important, EQ which fundamentally is the ability to empathize with fellow human beings and be tuned into things around you is absolutely critical. In my opinion, it’s what makes or breaks planning and planners; it’s what decides if planning can help creatives do great work or if creatives simply want to kill planners.

The planning style of those I call IQ planners – planners who rely predominantly on left brain processing in their work – tend to find both comfort and refuge in various planning processes, most of which are preconditioned to linearity of thought. These people have a deterministic relationship with numbers and planning as a whole. To utter words such as ‘randomness’ and ‘hunches’ makes them shit in their pants. You have been warned! IQ planners invariably start working on a new brief by looking at the data available. And this is likely to be category data.

The other kind of planners, those I call EQ planners – people who favour a more intuitive, fluid and creative approach to problem solving –  tend to consult their gut and they choose a more emotionally guided approach as they set out on their journey towards answering a brief. (Please note that I just said “emotionally driven”, not “irrationally driven” – these are two very different things) These guys do get down to the data eventually, of course they do, but the basic premise on which they operate, be it consciously or subconsciously, is the assumption that the data will only yield answers to the questions that have already been asked.

Presentations and documents written by IQ planners often resemble the kind of documents a management consultant produces, whereas those written by EQ planners tend to focus more on telling human stories and relate to a broader consumer life context in what they write. Undeniably, both have their place in business. However, in the communication industry where the link between brands and human emotion is what we deal in, one is indefinitely more important than the other if you ask me.

Jason is an EQ planner…..probably one with a very healthy IQ as well. Thank God for people like that!

Is there a point in this all this drivel? Well, you’ll be the judge of that. But whatever your conclusion, you may want to ask yourself what kind of planner you are?  

Posted in: Planning-related