Highlights From The 2013 4A’s Strategy Festival, “Strategy &”

What makes a good planner? How can planners demonstrate their value? What are the challenges and frustrations in planning today? All these questions were answered at the 4A’s Strategy Festival, held in Nashville in October, along with the role played by data, relevant insights from the music industry, and a celebration of planning. [And be sure to check the Strategy Festival website for photos, tweets and access to many presentation decks.]

Thanks to Information Specialist Rebecca Samson, for providing this Research Insights encapsulating the major Festival themes.

“Music City” had a starring role at the 2013 Strategy Festival, October 28–29, in Nashville, TN. The music of Nashville-based artists (country and non-country) played throughout. The Jay Chiat awards reception was held at the Silver Dollar Saloon, a downtown hot spot featuring a hometown band. Attendees could be heard excitedly discussing where they had sampled local BBQ and the live music scene.  

Titled “Strategy &,”the Festival highlighted the future of strategy and its role in relation to research, creativity, data, innovation, business goals and content. A good mix of panels, presenters and case studies spoke to how planning fits in with, and is affected by, those other forces. A special one-on-one interview with music industry insider, Founder and CEO of Big Machine Records, Scott Borchetta, gave a fascinating look at the music label as content creator. His views on the music business perfectly complemented the conference’s Nashville setting, and were also extremely relevant to the audience of strategists, as they echoed many themes addressed by other speakers.

 Some ideas that continued to surface throughout the conference were:

  1. Challenges and frustrations
  2. Data and its role in strategy
  3. What makes a good planner
  4. Defining and showing value
  5. Celebration of planning and planners.

Challenges and Frustrations

A lot of talks began with describing the rapidly changing landscape, and the effect it has on the business and how planners have to adapt and respond. Here are some of the issues and opportunities that emerged:

  • Shrinking attention spans and engagement (Jonah Disend, Founder and CEO, Redscout)
  • Sometimes we can be too strategic and overthink things. This hurts creative work. (Michael Fanuele, Chief Strategic Officer, Fallon)
  • Simplicity has disappeared and in its place is chaos. We have shifted from beautiful, elegant solutions to a rapid cycle of testing and ongoing interpretation. (Laura McFarlane, VP Strategy/Global, Sapient Nitro)

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