"You can observe a lot just by watching" -Yogi Berra
For me, this quote nails one of the joys of planning -figuring out what people really think, need and want.
All too often, the lens of the focus group will distort the subject of your enquiry and the statistics can obscure rather than reveal the truth (it is true that the average person has one breast and one testicle, but that doesn't help us much).
I've just discovered (literally, on my suit's bookcase) a book called "Kiss & Sell". It is not only full of great crit of real-world press and poster work, but its also peppered with useful quotes from everyone from Lao Tzu to Bill Bernbach. I was about to strip-mine it for GQFP, but got stopped dead in my tracks by this paragraph from Steve Hayden's foreword:
"David Ogilvy said that we should hire gentlemen with brains. Of course, that was when you had ten employees for every million dollars in billing. These days, thanks to the agglomerations that have taken most of the profit out of the business, we can afford less than a quarter of a person for every million in dollars. So I suggested that we change our policy to hiring assholes with talent. They're harder to live with, but they do deliver a better ROI than gentlemen and gentlewomen."
Now, I've worked in agencies run by gentlemen, and also in agencies dominated by talented assholes. And I'll take the latter everytime.
Yes, intelligence and politeness will allow an agency to deliver a consistently 'good' standard of work. But this same culture can also inhibit the leap from 'good' to 'great'.
Better a culture that accepts the need for challenges and questions, a culture which believes in for tempering strategies and creative work in the fires of argument and review. A culture that refuses to settle for 'good'.