It’s here. APG 2017. And I am extremely excited to be here and to have been asked to help seek out and find the most exciting transformational thinking from around the world.
Transformational thinking lies at the heart of all great strategy. Great strategy subverts and reframes established behaviours and convention to find breakthroughs, it always has done. However, in the face of unparalleled economic, social, political and technological disruption there has never been a more critical time for us to come together and celebrate the thinking and ideas that show the way forward. This not a competition but an opportunity for us to leave agency, holding company, client competition at the door and collaborate and solve the biggest problems we face as a profession, as an economy and indeed society. No one of us has all the answers.
Last time the awards arguably delivered the highest standard ever seen..this year we want to raise the bar once again. What are the things we will be looking for…beyond a beautifully told story...what will it take to be recognized?
1. Fall in love with the problem and make us do the same - Truly transformational thinking and phenomenal, meaningful innovation falls in love with a problem to solve not just an idea to find a home. What is the irrefutable, beautifully simple problem you are solving or Reframing. One that when solved has the potential to change the fortunes of an organisation and the behaviours of the public.
2. Frustration is a force for good - Transformation requires, energy, grit, being pissed about something. Not settling when told to sit down to leave it. Planning is not about pontificating. It's about energy directed with intent. Bring it. We want to feel it.
3. Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face – Mike Tyson a giant amongst strategists. Beautiful tales of seamless strategy developed without a hitch are a joy to read. But in reality things are never that simple. Dealing with the challenges, the unexpected, the iterations and adjustments. The twists the turns the response the resilience. That is a powerful and interesting lesson for us all to learn.
4. Wield Data, Master Technology but obsess about humanity - Leveraging the powerful potential of data to inform strategy, address audiences, and optimise thinking will no doubt be a fascinating area for this years entries. Equally those that in encompass and embrace technology like never before. But critically all else put the motivations, emerging values and behaviours of people and society first. Understanding and connecting with the world out there will be key.
5. Raise Your Ambition – Striving to connect and impact culture is hugely important. The APG isn’t solely focused on effectiveness but it is most certainly about impact, intent and ambition. Transformation is about thinking beyond objectives. About striving to create work that that truly makes a difference and a dent in the world. There can be no better example than This Girl Can. We would love to see more.
6. Write the future – Above all else. This our chance to stop theorising about what the future needs and create it. To share the thinking from which we can all learn. No one here as the answer. We are looking to all of you. This your chance to tell a story of your transformational thinking. To show that strategists, planners as people can transform how a room thinks, how a client thinks, how people think and transform how the world thinks. And in so doing create the future you and we all will be proud to be a part of.
Do you have a story? If you are here you obviously think you do. Get writing. If you are unsure get writing you may well have. If you don’t think you do. Get writing and you will no doubt discover why and learn in doing so.
There are a number of special awards along the way but in particular it would be good to mention the prize for long term thinking and the contribution of strategy to long running campaigns?
On behalf of the committee and the judges. We wait with baited breath. Good Luck.
See Matt's full presentation here.