Don’t be too clever

The ubiquitous Russell and others have written about what makes a good planner. The list of fundamentals goes something like:

  • Be a generalist – willing to turn your hand to anything.
  • Be interesting – hungry for information and willing to share it.
  • Be collaborative – your role is to be a catalyst for the team.
  • Be selfless – give your ideas freely and don’t expect credit for them.
  • Be sneaky – to get brief-rejecting creatives to do what you want.


But if those are the things we should be, what about the things we shouldn’t? Top of my list is ‘don’t try and be too clever’.

Trying to be too clever is bad because:


I know I’ve been through concerted phases of trying to be too clever in the past. And when I get over-excited I can still lapse into it now. I think that trying to be too clever happens when:

  • You believe your own hype when people say ‘that’s clever’. (They either mean ‘that’s really good and simple’ or ‘that’s too complicated and I don’t understand it’.)
  • You think that people (clients, bosses) expect you to do something different each time. No they don’t. They want you to do the right thing, and probably don’t even remember what you did last time.
  • Certain clients seem to need several feet of clever-looking bound PowerPoint documents to fulfil their KPIs, and trick you into producing them.

Examining my own motives for a second, I suppose I’m advocating simplicity because I’m aware how simple this blog is compared to some of the cleverness that’s out there, and I’m trying to make myself feel better!


2 Responses to “Don’t be too clever”

  1. Rob Andrews Says:

    Freudian Typo
    Make it very clear to the user how they are insulted from the weirdoes.

    You will be insulted directly, and in a language you barely comprehend. ie “Your input stinks, scaredycat blog-voyeur. Signed geekmaster10453.”
    Yup, that’s what they’re really afraid of.

  2. Andrew Says:

    Very good points. I’m a fan of complexity, but too many try and look clever by needless complication. We should all take the time to write less.

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