Despite planning going through an ‘explosion of digital media’ in recent decades, the fundamentals of strategic planning are here to stay, says AdSchool lecturer and chief strategy officer Kate Smither.

Speaking to The Communications Council in the lead up to AdSchool’s Core Strategic Planning course, Smither said that planning has adapted and become more chaotic in the digital world, but at the end of the day great planning comes from people not technology.
“Fundamentally, human beings don’t change, and we’re in the business of people. But, how you deliver it and understanding how people are doing things differently is crucial. That’s what keeps it fresh and modern.”

According to Smither, who is one of the world’s most awarded strategists, technology has made it a lot easier to access data and analytics but it will never replace the core principles of planning.
“Data is brilliant, but if you don’t have that human overlay it doesn’t mean anything,” she said.
“The sort of intuition and insight that comes from planning can’t be automated. I think by 2020 planning will go back to its core and the role will become more crucial.”
“When I first started in the industry, 20 years ago now, we didn’t have the data, and we didn’t have to wonder how people were engaging in brands because it was more linear. It’s more chaotic now, I’d say, and you can’t map one journey very easily. It’s definitely putting pressure on how brands do things, especially how we create experience, memorability and ‘stickiness’.”
For Smither, great planners have a firm grasp of the theory as well as a curiosity for creativity.
“Every planner I’ve ever worked with or have work for me has approached problems very differently,” she said.
“We can get very wrapped up in the theory of planning. But planning is also a weird combination of introvert and extrovert, real-world, real-time, and it has to have some contact with reality.”
As part of the AdSchool Core Strategic Planning course, students will learn about this important combination of factors, as well as gaining an understanding of the fundamentals for developing an end-to-end communications strategy.
“What’s exciting about this course, and for the next generation of planners, is that we are creating planning as a key part of Aussie advertising culture. The opportunity that courses like this provide is that it tests your thinking, it helps you find out how you think and puts theory into practice,” Smither said.
“Not everyone’s going to come out thinking the same way and neither should they. Planning is more creative than we give it credit for. Students will get a rounded exposure to different career paths, processes of thinking and types of skills.”
Kate Smither is the Sydney course lecturer for the upcoming AdSchool Core Strategic Planning course, running also in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. Registrations for the 8-week course are now open, with classes starting from March 20 in most cities.