Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Planning In An Agile World

I've always been a planner. At times to the point of obsession. But the older I get, the less crazy I make myself about it. I know that no matter how hard you try you cannot and will not control everything. Things will happen that no one expected.  And they often get in the way of the original blueprint. The key is to be flexible when it does and be open to the idea that the change might be even better than what you had planned for.

Don't get me wrong. If you want to create something you need to be clear on what it is and you need to figure out what it will take to manifest it. A plan must be in place whether we're talking life or business.

The really smart and the really successful know better than to hold on  too tightly to the plan as written. They reassess along the way and are flexible enough to improvise when needed, looking at the twists in the road as opportunity instead of disaster.

Take Sunday night during the Superbowl. No one planned a power outage in the Superdome that would delay play for thirty-four minutes. There was a championship to decide and commercials to air. Yes, those :30 and :60 spots reputed to be sold in the vicinity of $40 million. A huge money maker for CBS and a huge expenditure of an advertising budget for even the deepest of pockets.

Witness the smart thinking and agility of Oreo and 360i. Oreo had bought a commercial in the game that had already aired. According to Buzzfeed,  the agency and the brand had set up a "mission control" in advance,  basically meaning the agency and the decision makers for Oreo were in the same room when the lights went dim. Within minutes the team had turned around the situation, effectively "newsjacking" it. They created and tweeted this new ad, capitalizing on the moment. 

Not only did this generate an extraordinary amount of Tweets and Facebook likes, people like me are continuing to write about it, generating even more conversation about their brand than they could have planned for.

Newsjacking is a relatively new concept coined by  David Meerman Scott , what he calls "the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business." 

There were other brands who were also acting with agility including Tide and Calvin Klein, more evidence that this is becoming the way of the world in which we live, whether we are speaking to advertising campaigns or our lives. 

Things are changing, faster than ever before. Five year plans can become five minute plans at the touch of a button. Which means we either need to respond more quickly and be more agile or we will be left in a cloud of dust...or in this case cookie crumbs.