I Wouldn't start from here

Remember that old gag about a tourist in Ireland asking for directions to Limerick and being told ".. I wouldn't start from here.."  Planners writing briefs need to consider the start as importantly as the end point. Neal Fairfield, head of planning at Razorfish neatly summed up the point recently on the apg blog. 

If problems are the lifeblood of our industry are too many of us are working with those on the periphery of what really matters?

Do we too often take the start point at face value without going beyond the obvious and the what’s gone before?

( Talking about Red Tomato Pizza App in Dubai, yes from 2012, but a bigger challenge than the Dominos version that followed, and yes that was CP+B)

-Good because it looked beyond your standard ‘sell more pizzas’ and looked for a way to solve the more interesting and chewy problem of how to deal with so many foreign languages in such a multi-national city. It cost too much for the pizza company in question to hire staff fluent in multiple languages so they smashed marketing and technology together to come up with a pioneering world-class solution.

Looking much harder at the reasons a client has spent all the time and energy to look for help. This is a problem they can't solve on their own, they need our help. Just excepting the start point they offer is not really helping. 

Consider the Brexit Remain campaign. Which had the start point of experts agree leaving the EU is nuts, the numbers don't stack up, Remain is the only option for a prosperous future. Sadly as a start point this was so inappropriate for the issues facing so many it was doomed from the start. This was a failure of planning and insight. (OK the client was an uncoordinated nightmare, but still that's not unique) Just as selling pizza to a multi-lingual audience needs a lateral approach so selling nationhood to the disenfranchised takes a deep understanding of personal motivations.

There is so much to say on this subject. However in it's simplest form my advice is look away from your screen and take time to really meet and understand the audience you are trying to influence. Worth pointing out that even the influencers forget the effect they cause. This Twitter exchange between Jon Snow and Rupert Murdoch nails it really.