Strategy Skills for the Future

The planning world is being constantly disrupted and is becoming increasingly fragmented. The proliferation of titles and roles and different applications of strategic thinking force us to pay attention to what this means for individual strategists and how we should arm up to deal with change and continue to thrive as a discipline. So rather than posit various future scenarios we’ve gone to the nitty gritty and focused on the skills that we as a community believe are axiomatic to our future health.  

With some pretty extensive research.

Firstly, we interviewed 25 strategy leaders, CSOs, Heads of Planning, CEOs and a couple of clients. These were depth interviews with leading thinkers where we discussed the skills they think are going to be really important, as well as their views on how we should meet the challenges ahead.

Then we went on to survey you, the APG community. In total, 317 Planners and Strategists completed our Future Skills Survey.

We’re really glad you responded with such vigour and enthusiasm and we hope that you find the data interesting, and our conclusions both helpful and provocative.  

Which skills are the most valued?

The top rated skills required for Planners and Strategists are universal:​

1. Understanding people (at 9.5, this was the top-rated skill.)

Even the die-hard tech and data experts said, overwhelmingly, that it was crucial to understand people holistically and be the experts at what motivates them– and not just how they behave online.

2. Understanding effectiveness (9.4) 

How is the idea supposed to work, and how is it supposed to get the client their predetermined return? The business end of things was felt to be critical.

3. The ability to define a problem (9.3)

Ah the grey cells – between the two ends – people at one end, and business at the other. The ability to define what that problem was (and therefore define the solution) is critical. 

The top rated skills required for Planners and Strategists are universal:​

1. Understanding people (at 9.5, this was the top-rated skill.)

Even the die-hard tech and data experts said, overwhelmingly, that it was crucial to understand people holistically and be the experts at what motivates them– and not just how they behave online.

2. Understanding effectiveness (9.4) 

How is the idea supposed to work, and how is it supposed to get the client their predetermined return? The business end of things was felt to be critical.

3. The ability to define a problem (9.3)

Ah the grey cells – between the two ends – people at one end, and business at the other. The ability to define what that problem was (and therefore define the solution) is critical.

Who did we interview?

John Clark
John Clark

Planning Director at Coley Porter Bell

Will Hodge
Will Hodge

Head of Planning at Karmarama

Shekhar Deshpande
Shekhar Deshpande

Global Planning Director at J. Walter Thompson

Dom Boyd
Dom Boyd

APG Chair & Ex-Group Head of Strategy at adam&eveDDB

Mark Bell
Mark Bell

Chief Experience Officer at OLIVER

Lisa Bowcott
Lisa Bowcott

European Marketing Director at Trainline

Stuart Bowden
Stuart Bowden

Global Chief Strategy Officer at MEC

Bogdana Butnar
Bogdana Butnar

Head of Strategy at Poke

James Caig
James Caig

Head of Strategy at True Digital

Neal Fairfield
Neal Fairfield

Director of Strategy at SapientRazorfish

Kirsty Fuller
Kirsty Fuller

Former Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Flamingo Group

John Harrison
John Harrison

Managing Partner at BBH London

Jon Leach
Jon Leach

Chime, Independent Guru

Craig Mawdsley
Craig Mawdsley

Joint Chief Strategy Officer at AMV BBDO

Sameer Modha
Sameer Modha

Head of Data Proposition, DigitasLBi

Guy Murphy
Guy Murphy

Worldwide Planning Director at JWT

Mobbie Nazir
Mobbie Nazir

Mobbie Nazir Chief Strategy Officer at We Are Social

Cressida O'Shea
Cressida O'Shea

(Ex) Strategy Partner at M&C Saatchi

Marco Rimini
Marco Rimini

CEO of Mindshare Worldwide

John Shaw
John Shaw

Chief Product Officer at Brand Union

Jon Steel
Jon Steel

Group Planning Director at WPP

Nick Vale
Nick Vale

Global Planning Director at Maxus

Kate Waters
Kate Waters

Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Now Advertising

David Wilding
David Wilding

Director of Planning at Twitter