Life as a Planner #1: Hunting vs. Gathering
Are you a hunter or a gatherer?
A major part of life as a planner is finding the right balance between hunting and gathering. No, not berries and bison — but insights and observations.
Most of the time, you’re hunting: tracking down interesting facts, examples, and information that can add richness to a description of your target or shed new light on a business problem. These range from the super-specific — Why do casual drivers not bother with winter tires? — to more far-reaching topics, such as the shift away from car ownership in urban centres. You may even decide to conduct some good ol’ primary research, like focus groups and surveys, to get your answers.
When you’re hunting, you always have a purpose, or a use for the information you’re getting. The end-result — a brief, a deck, a workshop or presentation — is always on your mind.
Gathering is much different. I would even argue that planners don’t do enough of it.
When you’re gathering, you’re planning without a purpose. You’re soaking in society as a keen observer of culture, simply in pursuit of knowing people a bit better. You’re reading magazines (yes, in print!), scanning articles online, and maybe even trawling through a white paper or two. You’re also getting out of the office and into the malls, grocery stores, and coffee shops where consumers actually are. You’re taking it all in, and making mental notes as you do.
You just have to make time for it. And there is no docket (ouch!).
The great part about gathering, you see, is that it makes you a better hunter. You will already have knowledge about a broad range of topics, trends, and issues, and will already have a good understanding of where to start. You’ll spend less time sizing up your target, and more time going for the kill.
Do you make enough time for gathering?
Read more from John at The Planning Notepad