This is the 5th and probably final part of my series on craft skills of the digital strategist. I say probably because I will no doubt think of some others which I might squeeze into an also-rans article at a later date.
Anyway, here it is. And it’s a biggie. And it’s perhaps the most under-rated skill of all.
When was the last time you ever heard of ‘assimilation’ as being a skill? Well, someone once said to me that it was the most important thing a planner should be able to do. At the time I said, ‘Oh yes, I can do that,’ and then I had to look it up in a dictionary.
Definition of assimilate in English:
As I understand it, I think that for strategists, assimilation means a few things:
- Being able to use the available knowledge about a subject, decide what is relevant, and really understand it – and by being the expert on something make sure that everyone else on the team understands the important information too – e.g. the significant bits of the context, the direction, the vision, the challenges, and so on. Get everyone on the same page, in a smart way.
- By being the expert as described above, to be able to truthfully and wholeheartedly put yourself in the shoes of the target audience, the client or even the brand. Like method acting, it’s method planning. Be your customer and ask, ‘why do I care about this?’ Be your brand and say, ‘Does this suit me?’
- Thirdly, assimilation is about making connections between all the bits of information, knowledge and insight – the more interesting connections you can make, the better chance you have of coming up with something that will be interesting to your creative teams, to your client, and most importantly, to your target audience.
This skill is not really something that can be taught. It is something that comes with practice if you know what to practice, and it’s likely to be a thing some people have a head start on because that’s the way their imagination and understanding works. It’s probably therefore the hardest skill for some strategists to learn, and for some strategists, it’s probably something they do without even knowing it is a skill.
I’d agree though, with the original point that person made to me quite a long time ago, that being good at assimilation is perhaps the most important thing that identifies a great strategist/planner.
Do let me know your thoughts on assimilation. Do you think it’s a skill?
And please do also give me any feedback you have about the 5 skills I’ve talked about this week. Can you think of any more?