#planningness is a different kind of conference. Though it’s been going on for 5 years (I think - maybe more, maybe less??), it’s not your typical industry conference. They cap attendance at under 200 people and sessions are generally interactive workshops. Perhaps this years #planningness conference was even chiller - given that it took place at a beach house (literally) in Santa Monica, CA. It’s hard to take yourself too seriously when the pacific ocean is steps away and the sun is shining at a glorious 73 degrees.
It’s a fascinating experiment to put about 150 “planners” into one room for 2 days…planners at various levels in their career, some who prefer to refer to their job as strategist, big global agency folk, smaller boutique folk, older, younger, digital, traditional, etc etc etc….just to see how they all interact. What kinder social butterflies are we? This is what Dan Berkal discussed in his session:
Everyone is tweeting. No one is tweeting to one another. #planningness
At the end of the day, the one thing that commonly bonds most planners today is that we all usually consider ourselves the most perceptive and curious ones in the room (especially if the room is filled with either random consumers or ad-men). Perception and curiosity mean very different things when everyone in the room thinks they’re both ;)
What I loved about #planningness was the diversity of sessions. It wasn’t 2 days of usual conference crap (well, at least the majority of it wasn’t conf crap) - “brands in a social world,” “how to create communities,” “writing creatives brief in 2012,” etc, etc. There was an attempt to really expand ways of thinking about problems…
There was a detective from the Santa Monica police department who discussed interrogation methods - though honestly and ironically, i don’t think he was really briefed properly on his audience so it felt a little slow and not really as rich as it could’ve been. Still, the idea of bringing in a top homicide detective was brilliant. Even if the execution was a bit of a #fail.
One of the most inspirational session/workshop was with Dr. Amanda Parkes:
Dr. Amanda J Parkes- biomedia designer, fashion technologist, curator, professor Amanda Parkes is a biomedia designer fashion technologist interested in how digital technologies and smart materials can expand our relationship with natural phenomena to facilitate a more intuitive connection interfacing technology to the natural world.
Introducing Solidoodle 2 Now with a large 6x6x6 build area, starting at just $499. Welcome to Solidoodle, the next generation of printers that allows you to unleash your creativity in three dimensions - and multiple colors. Turn your imagination into reality - one strand of plastic at a time.
Seriously - producing objects locally - especially in developing regions???? It might just be the beginning, but I think it’s going to be big. Really big if he can further lower the cost (think one laptop per child for printers that make objects!!) . Possibly a game-changer. Moving from maker-bots to ‘affordable’ 3D printing….I think it’s super exciting.
Next up - Sinan Aral …smart, awesome fellow Nike fuel band wearer (he’s kicking my ass in fuel points!) discussing social influence (and no, not in that usual social-media-conference-cheesy way). He’s a brilliant mind. And beyond his session, chatting with him that the Viceroy after-party was even more interesting. He’s working on ways to socialize health to drive real behavior change. He’s thoughtful. And most importantly, not a hack.
Sinan Aral - TEDxColumbiaEngineering - Sinan Aral - 11/29/11
Again - check out his work, follow him, tweet him, fb him. You’ll walk away inspired. Promise.
Now, I hate to have favorites, but the highlight of #planningness for me (and my colleagues) was the brilliant, funny, engaging Andreas Weigend:
Preparing for the #planningness Art of #SocialData workshop with wonderful people. And coming up: bit.ly/ischooldata pic.twitter.com/PyowXhUf
Andreas Weigend studies people and the data they create and share. He works with companies that are eager to discover and tackle the pertinent questions and to develop strategies to realize the untapped power of data. His clients include Alibaba, Best Buy, Goldman Sachs, Lufthansa, Match.com, Nokia, Singtel, Thomson Reuters, the World Economic Forum, as well as exciting startups around the globe.
The Social Data Lab collaborates with businesses to navigate the irreversible impact of the Social Data Revolution on individuals, business, and society. We help members take advantage of innovative technologies and ideas in emerging social data startups. The lab is directed by Andreas Weigend who also teaches the Stanford course The Social Data Revolution (MSE 237).
Andreas is brilliant thinker and professor at Stamford. My colleague, Alla knew him from her undergrad days at Stamford. He discussed how innovations in the creation and distribution of content change how and what we define as consumption. Micro-data points change what we understand about people and ourselves on a local, social, mobile level. And waaaay more than those two minor points. Check out his site where he has his slides and a lot more (including a very cool film project he’s working on). He’s the kind of speaker you could listen to all day long just to absorb how he thinks.
Oh, and he referred to us as the beach house girls during his talk (having met him the night before….and telling him about the house were staying in that was listed as beach house, but not actually on a beach), which had all of us blushing ;) True. Story.
But perhaps the most interesting things I learned in Santa Monica were about my colleagues/friends: that one had baby teeth for an unusually long time, another gal and I both lost family members on the same month/day for the same reason, and one was a really late bloomer and doesn’t understand the concept of making coffee. 4 colleagues became friends. I think we better understand what we do, what drives our work, what being in the same department means. We have common struggles. And some uncommon ones too. It’s not often that you get to spend 3 days - 24/7 - with smart, funny, amazing women that do what you do, work where you work. We are 4 planners. We like to think. We like to solve problems. We love to have fun. And we all love in&out burger (but not crispy fries). we all agree that god is fair - you can’t haven’t all, so appreciate what you got.
#planningness opened my mind to working a little differently - taking into account all the interesting things I learned and connecting with all the awesome people I met. Trying to avoid the same approach every time. Rinse-repeat is efficient. But it’s not innovative. It’s got no heat.
Too often, we in advertising work day in and day out - 80-100 ours a week (or more) with pride (it makes us part of a special club, or so we think) without taking the time out to say hello, grab a coffee, work through a client’s problem with people who aren’t on the team or getting out of our silos - digital people too cool and digerati to understand what a brand essence and consumer insight is… and traditional people annoyed by this crop of techno-geek know-nothings infiltrating their world with no real sense of what advertising is… We stand in our corners, defending our ground. scared to cross the line and share and find a common ground and learn each others languages. Doesn’t matter how big the bridge if no one is willing to try crossing it.
Being in NYC, we can’t just take a minute to stare at the ocean, rub our feet in the sand and just think. THINK. Really think. That is our job as Planners, right? To think about people, problems, behavior? To think and then create and then think some more?
But we can ask for diverse options. We can walk 2 blocks and stare at the hudson. We can grab a coffee with colleagues we don’t normally talk to, etc etc etc (I’m cringing at being overly corny here). Point is - my biggest takeaway and insight from Planningness is to sometimes just stop for a minute and think… differently. Ask more questions, new questions.
This was a bit of ramble. But let’s be honest, is any even reading this??????
P.S. I wrote this using the Storify app on my iPad on the plane back - so apologies for typos, etc. - also storify, your app is frustrating and buggy.
Check out #planningness for more conference goodness….here are a few more highlights I thought interesting:
RT @TeamOneUSA: “The more digital we get, the more human we have to be.” @GautamRamdurai #planningness ^ar pic.twitter.com/b7wtSAZa