3 Takeaways from 4A’s Stratfest 2018

I just got back from Stratfest 2018, where planners and strategists from all over the globe gathered to exchange knowledge and experiences, as well as celebrate 50 years of planning (and make predictions about the next 50).  Here are a few of my top takeaways:

See the forest and the trees (and the bark, too).

It’s easy to get swept up in details when we’re solving a really specific, complicated problem. We go down rabbit holes to hunt down insights, which often lead to great ideas, but they’re sometimes made in a vacuum. It’s important to step back and see the greater context that’s informing the problem in order to develop informed solutions. When we’re starting from a 30,000 ft. view, it’s also important to remember that we can’t always stay there—the details matter, and are sometimes where we find the most interesting tensions. So, we need both the high-level and deep-dive views, and our job is to figure out when to lean on each.

Think like an astronaut.

When L’Oreal Chief Curiosity Officer Sarah DaVanzo got back from Space Camp, she took what she learned and applied it to her role as a strategist and futurist. Like astronauts, we have to know what we don’t know, and be comfortable living in that ambiguity. At the same time, use what you have. We have plenty of tools (like this), resources (like this), and collaborators to inspire the smartest, most creative work. Doing the best work sometimes means taking a huge leap of faith—one that makes both clients and internal teams nervous but can mean transformative outcomes. Moonshots aren’t just for space travelers.

Brand positioning can shape your culture.

A few years ago when Harry’s was entering the market, the company’s values were clear, but the brand’s positioning wasn’t. They launched the “Man Enough” platform, redefining what masculinity means and their product’s important role in helping men embrace what it really means to be a man, beyond stereotypes. This idea drove marketing decisions of course, but also company policies, like paid parental leave regardless of gender. When your brand positioning truly reflects who you are, it’s amazing what can happen.