Back to the future

John Shaw

The planning landscape in 2020 – A punter's view

The rate of change over time is often overestimated. Planning in 2020 will resemble planning in 1985 but will be more client-focused and more important than ever.

Any prize that is a lifetime's supply of something is clearly designed to attract younger contestants, unless it's slippers or denture fixative. On current projections, a 25-year-old prize winner would receive about 600 issues of Admap, an unimaginable luxury; whereas at my age, I would only receive 276, a very pleasant, but considerably smaller, trophy. It's clear I'll be competing with planners who are young, smart, hungry, and so digitally native they're practically a lost tribe. It's a daunting prospect.

My only unusual weapon is experience. I started in JWT's planning department in 1985, when every day began with an erudite, coffee-fuelled discussion on what was in the daily papers and no busy work began until at least 10.15. So in looking forward to what planning will be like in eight years' time, I can at least offer a 27-year historical perspective. This could be useful, if the intention is to predict the actual future rather than a fanciful notion of it.