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APG Annual Conference | Big Thinking on Strategy

The Annual Conference which felt like the year’s highlight brought home to us just how much strategy needs to change to keep up with the world around us. Everything is getting faster, more agile, more collaborative - and successful strategy more than ever is about going with this flow. That is not to say that deliberate strategy that provides the fundamentals and frameworks for thinking deeply about the direction of businesses, brands and communications is no longer important. It is, but that needs to be balanced with the ability to respond to events with emergent strategy, the messy, incomplete, real-time thinking and doing that is increasingly important in order to keep up with the speed of change and needs of consumers.

We think talking is as important as thinking for planners. And that is why we have rearticulated the core purpose of the APG as one of ‘inspiring bold exchanges’. We have seen time and again through Noisy Thinking, the Annual Conferences, and training sessions, just how important it is to discuss, debate, and disagree with everyday assumptions and how that inspires new ideas and new insights that lead to greater and better planning across the community.

And that word ‘community’ is key. We want to bring it back and live and breathe it via the activities of the APG from 2015 onwards. The website will become much more of an exchange platform for discussion and debate around content. Content that will in the end be posted more by APG members than APG administrators, if we get it right. Solving planners problems, inspiring them with fresh perspectives, bringing to light everyday dilemmas, and sharing top tips, hints, advice and experiences will make this a busy and valuable place of exchange for the community, by the community. And with that in mind, we will revisit the financial model to look at how a more ‘community’ driven approach might be more profitable and purposeful than a ‘membership’ driven one.

2015 of course will see us host the prestigious APG Awards, and that will be hard work as well as a rewarding highlight of the year if we get it right. We will be reclaiming the ability of strategy to influence people, and events in the world that go well beyond the narrowness of traditional advertising. Our theme is ‘strategies of influence’ and it’s great.

My suggestion is that we evolve this idea of ‘influence’ and make 2015 all about 21st Century Strategy. That would provide us with an umbrella theme for not only our own organsational repositioning and evolution to ‘community’. But also give us an umbrella theme for our Noisy Thinking sessions, for the Annual Conference, for our Young Planners events and even possibly for our training if we wished.

The discipline of planning is morphing into a more collaborative, more agile, less well defined but certainly more exciting thing, and we could lead the industry by addressing the challenges and exchanging ideas and inspiration about what the future will require of us all.

And that starts with the committee as a community.

Tracey Follows

APG Chair

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