Rob Campbell
Nov 21, 2013

When planners go bad (or sad)

The author puts down 11 clues to spot the 'intellectual wannabe' planner

When planners go bad (or sad)
I’m back.
I know, you'd have thought Campaign would have come to their sense after last month, but no—they’ve asked me to do it again. Fools.
So I’m a planner.
Yes, I know, for some people—my parents, for example—that is like admitting your life has been one massive disappointment. But I obviously don’t subscribe to that point of view.
That said, I do think planners can be their own worst enemy—doing or saying stuff that confuses and alienates rather than brings clarity or purpose. So given Campaign have kindly given me another opportunity to spout my nonsense, I thought I’d take this opportunity to try and help change that.
The thing is, there are many types of planners. So rather than try and cover off all types in one go, I thought—if Campaign lets me get away with it—i’d use the next few months to focus on each different type.
Below are 11 ‘clues’ on spotting what I call, the ‘intellectual wannabe’ planner.
While they’re generally nice and harmless, they can—if not treated—end up being a danger to business and creativity. So if you spot any of these traits in yourself (or you’re working with someone who acts this way) act now before it’s too late.
  • Every sentence—written or spoken—includes a percentage. To 2 decimal points.
  • They'll use 68 words when 10 will do.
  • Studies show 78 per cent of those words are ‘corporate talk’ and 22 per cent are whatever was featured on a ‘word of the day’ site.
  • Every reference will come from a management book or a business magazine.
  • Powerpoint slides are filled with words (in size 10 font)
  • Or occasionally a clipart pic.
  • Every presentation will start with a quote, either from a dictionary, a spiritual leader or a business god.
  • When they present, they make sure they read every single word on the screen. Every. Single. Word.
  • They will mention their company's proprietary tool about 10,000 times and blindly believe everything it states is gospel.
  • Their knowledge of people’s attitudes, values and behaviour comes exclusively from Google or research reports, and they’re not embarrassed by that fact.
  • They are always as quiet as a mouse when creative work is being presented.
Got it?
Excellent. All that leaves me to say is good luck with your treatment / intervention and I’ll see you soon with my clues on how to spot a hipster planner.
That is, unless Campaign come to their senses.
Rob Campbell is regional head of strategy for Wieden+Kennedy, based in Shanghai.
This article first appeared on
Campaign India