I have just finished reading Eric Ries' excelent new book 'The Lean Startup'. Esentially it's a very readable, down to earth, practical crash course in lean development. It's about working out how you can accelerate thorugh a loop of validated learning as quickly as possible with the minimum amount of waste.
Now there has been a lot of stuff written decrying the sloppy way lean (and agile) processes have been misapropriated by the marketng world. But I think there is an important lesson in the lean process for planners and the development of strategy.
At the heart of the lean process lies the idea of the minimum viable product: the most basic thing you can put out into the world to test a hypothesis or assumption and get validated learning from the real world. I believe that in the faster world we live in today, and the relatively ponderous way we (the ad agency industry) produce work, what needs to lie at the heart of communication development is minimum viable planning.
What is this?
It's about doing the minimum amount of work needed to get to, or inspire, an idea. It's about cutting down the waste - things like deliberating adjective soup and brand vegetables for 3 months.
It's about generating hypotheses that can be tested, not sitting in an ivory tower with a damp towel on your head waiting for the answer to appear like divine inspiration.
It's about making stuff that can be tested in the real world, not running weeks of focus groups to hear people talk about how they think they think or might behave.
It's about making as few charts as possible to explain a strategy or idea - get to the work
It's about understanding that strategy has to evolve and morph over time (whilst being aware there's a danger that this could become an excuse for superficiality).
It's a bias to doing over thinking.
It's about doing stuff to learn stuff.
It's more like experimentation than planning as we know it.