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Think like a CSO (with Craig Mawdsley)

Preparing for the APG ‘think like a CSO’ event, hosted and made possible by Mintel, made me think about how I think. Which may be a greater level of introspection than any of us should really be indulging in, but it was a useful exercise nonetheless.

I came to a few conclusions.

I think a lot about whether I’m doing enough. What can I say? I’m paranoid/diligent, but I realised that I spend an awful lot of time wondering about whether I’m really adding value. It’s probably the thing that drives me most – a desire to make a difference. And as CSO, that does become a more complicated question. It’s not just about coming up with ideas for clients. It’s about whether you’re thinking enough about the future shape of your business and disciplne. And must be, in my mind, the prerequisite for being any good.

I think about making connections. I realized that when trying to solve problems, I’m thinking as much about who I can talk to as I am about what I can talk about. Strategy is, after all, a social discipline, and for me, at least, it’s all about finding people who might have the missing pieces that will help make my hunches and half ideas into proper interesting strategies.

I think about people. As CSO, I spend a lot of time thinking about whether our Strategists are happy, challenged, engaged, creative, performing. I probably think about this more than anything else and it’s a huge challenge, but ultimately the thing that makes the biggest difference to the agency’s strategic output. Because they do more thinking collectively than I can individually.

I think about the future. A CSO’s role is to work out what might happen next and I spend time worrying (constructively) about the future of our industry with various kinds of automation presenting threats to the role of the human brain in helping clients solve their strategic problems. I haven’t thought of the answer yet.

But ultimately, I don’t think enough. There’s a lot of talking, a lot of doing, a lot of typing and tapping, but nowhere near enough actually thinking in my days. There is perhaps only so much you can do, but I think from here, one of the things I will do is to try and carve out a bit more space and time to actually think like a CSO.

Craig Mawdsley AMV BBDO

What did our audience think?

'Excellent. It was good to have the opportunity to hear case studies in depth. Very interesting to hear a "non-winning" experience - you can often learn more from things that go wrong as from out and out successes'

'Think like a CSO' sessions are the most helpful APG events I've been to as they give you wisdom that you can apply in your day to day job'

'I thought it was the best APG event I have ever been to. I felt sharing "live" examples was a brilliant way to learn and get a really good insight into the development of the strategic thinking on a big brand'

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