Group Think Festival - Strategy

Core lessons from Group Think Festival on the changing world of strategy

Recently, the herd attended the 2021 Group Think Festival, which hosted a range of talks by stimulating and inspirational speakers from the biggest brands and agencies within the communications sphere.

Talks ranged from strategy book reviews and lateral thinking group sessions, to advice from top strategists within the industry. Two talks in particular stood out to us, and, below are our core learnings.

Changing skills of strategists

The first panel talk was about the changing skills of strategists, which was a collaborative conversation run by three panellists; Dom Boyd Managing Director of Kantar, Nick Myers Planning Partner at OLIVER and Anna Vogt CSO at TBWA London.

The panellists debated the personality traits of generalists (someone whose skills, interests, or habits are varied) and specialists (someone who focuses on a specific role, profession, or skill set) within agencies. They ultimately concluded that a team is most effective when both types of personalities are involved.

Another interesting discussion area focused on the need for adaptability by strategists within any given situation. Strategists are usually thought to be naturally adaptable due to the array of projects that present them with differing objectives, strategic processes and KPI’s, however, the panellists concluded that strategists need to provide further adaptability skills during this lifestyle and work alteration.

On Strategy Showcase

The second talk that the team found highly thought-provoking was delivered by Fergus O’Carroll, Founder of the ‘On Strategy Showcase’ podcast. He took us through his top lessons learned during the 60 episodes of his podcast series.

He explained the importance of getting strategists to see the world more, or to “get out more”, and thereby see issues, solutions, and perspectives through a consumer lens. The team at Elephants strongly agree with this and continue to adopt the activity of ‘active empathy’ within every immersion phase of new projects we begin with clients.

Another observation was that by studying the past, strategists can explore inspiration, but also caution, from history. An extension to this was the discussion point highlighting that strategy doesn’t have to be reinvention, but instead, rediscovery. In other words, brands can learn from what they already have, to see whether they can refresh their origins. By refreshing their origins, brands might be able to become culturally relevant to today’s society.

Ultimately, the Group Think Festival enabled the team to expand on their strategic knowledge and inspiration, and gave us an opportunity to think laterally too!

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