Learning and Improvement, Not Proof and Magic Solutions
By William Eccleshare, Chairman and Chief Executive, BBDO Europe
Stephen was that rarest of combinations-a great intellect and a great simplifier. Never was this more clearly expressed than in the Planning Cycle which so many JWT people used – and still use – as the basic framework for their thinking. As explained in this article, the Cycle forces its user to recognize that we are engaged in a continual process, not a one-off exercise. That in itself is a basic lesson that is so frequently ignored in a world where instant ROI has become the mantra for the increasingly beleaguered Marketing Director or CMO. (“Chief Marketing Officer”. How Stephen would have enjoyed that particular linguistic confection!)
What stands out in this nearly 30-year-old article is Stephen’s lucid prose. Brilliantly direct, never polysyllabic if a plain word could be found, and always straight to the point. Stephen’s resistance to jargon – even when writing, as here, in an erudite publication such as Admap – is palpable. His facility with words makes him a joy to read, and re-read: “The first straw contributes as much as the last to the breakage of the camel.” Marvellous.
But beyond the prose one is struck by the absolute and continuing relevance of the thinking. The core message here is that a planner’s job is never done: The planning process is “one of learning and improvement, not of proof and magic solutions”. If that was true in 1977 it ...