The aptitudes and attitudes of great strategists

I was asked a couple of years back what makes a good planner for a PSFK video series and wrote a this piece. Hiring recently, I revisited my hiring criteria (so that I could create a geeky matrix to compare candidates’ relative strengths and weaknesses) and slightly updated it. I couldn’t claim to be great across the board but this is what I strive for…

The APTITUDES of great strategists

Understands business context: Seeks out the bigger business problems and opportunities behind each client brief (and interrogates those briefs to ensure that they focus on the real issues, target the correct audiences etc).

Identifies & packages insights: Gathers insights from a variety of sources – engaging with the audience, interrogating the data, sensing cultural trends. Has the ability to package insights in compelling ways (creating pen-portraits, writing playbooks, plotting customer journeys etc) to bring them to life and inspire ideas.

Thinks big & small: Can think big brand-defining thoughts as well as the myriad little ways in which those ideas can be realized in execution (as comms, experiences, utilities, products and services etc).

Merchandizes ideas: Has the ability to join the dots between different pieces of information to express coherent and compelling ideas in the form of creative briefs and briefings and client presentations.

Always optimizes: Sees everything we put out into the world as an opportunity to learn. Defines measurement frameworks and monitors learning to improve our work in future.

The ATTITUDES of great strategists

Opinionated: Has a point of view when it comes to strategy and creative and is not afraid to express it.

Questioning: Doesn’t blindly follow, takes time to think whether something could be done better and is prepared to push the client and colleagues to make it happen.

Collaborative: Recognizes that at CHI both the strategic and the creative process is a team effort and is prepared to work thorough problems and own solutions together with others.

Accountable: Recognizes that we are too lean for hand-holding and takes responsibility for having the necessary conversations, gathering the necessary information and delivering the work necessary to get things done.

Open: Open to a wide variety of perspectives and keen to learn from others.