Thoughts from John: The Importance of Planning

March 5, 2020

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” 

It’s a well known axiom attributed to Abraham Lincoln and a simple truth in business. Preparation is key to successful execution. 

While this is helpful in all areas of life, it’s especially important in video production. I cannot overstate the value of thorough planning and preparation. – Even if I don’t always do it myself.

Begin with the end in mind. 

That’s what planning means. And, it’s the best way to approach most video projects, regardless of scale or industry or budget. 

Our approach begins as we learn about the client and identify the “why” behind their desired outcomes and needs. And, that means we have to research and discuss the infinite variables available to find our client’s big idea. 

Do you have conflicting internal messages in your organizations? Whose opinion is worth getting? Which places are integral to scout for locations? Are you in different time zones? 

So many stages go into the process of crafting video content. A smooth day of production means that three times as many hours were spent preparing for what could go wrong and meticulously organizing the expected. 

A Look Back at Albemarle

For projects like the one we did with Albemarle, planning becomes even more integral. Trying to encompass the spirit of a global company into one representative, cohesive, effective message is complex and time consuming. 

That kind of commitment involves a great deal of planning before the project even begins. For a project of that magnitude, you prepare for the preparation process. Who is the point person? Who are the stakeholders? 

For Albemarle, the stakes were very high. We had language barriers, global travel and production, major logistical hurdles, and shooting locations in extreme weather. And, we never really stopped the planning phase because each shoot contained so many variables.

A key component of the Albemarle message was the importance of their community outreach efforts. In Chile, this was especially challenging to prove. The recipients of Albemarle’s outreach efforts were  part of an indigenous people. While they were grateful to Albemarle for the solar panels given to their community, they had no desire to be on camera.

Though we originally planned to capture portraits of the indigenous people, we had to respect their wishes and adapt.

How We Adapted

Instead, we decided to refocus on the Albemarle employees. And, we featured them in both work and outside settings to show the interconnection between their company, work, and outreach efforts.

In addition, we worked with the indigenous community representative to connect with an older couple who later agreed to represent their community on camera by standing in front of a local mountain, which you can see toward the end of the video.

The care that went into pre-production and planning for the Albemarle video project allowed us to adapt easily and still capture the original intention. Instead of constricting the creative nature of the video, planning ensured that it still succeeded.

However, the importance of planning isn’t limited to the making of a video.

Planning is a skill that’s required throughout business.

Planning is about having a strategy and intentionally following it. It’s more than just a task list. It’s about identifying a big idea and being flexible in execution, adapting to the overall goal when challenges arise. 

But, just like a budget, being flexible is only possible when boundaries and goals are carefully designed and communicated. And, that takes lots of planning. 

Being prepared is more than just having a plan, it’s about approaching challenges and goals and problems in a thorough manner. When you fail to plan, time, energy, and money go to waste. And, when you’re on a tight budget, every dollar matters. So, the more you prepare, the farther your dollars will go.

Good planning is also about clear communication amongst a team.

We’re getting ready to have our annual strategic meeting with our team to discuss goals, brainstorm how to improve, and foster a culture of trust among our staff. 

But, at its heart, it’s about preparing for the challenges ahead, planning changes that need to be enacted, and strategizing what to do for all the “what-ifs” on the road ahead.  

Once we establish our game plan for the year, it serves as a solid foundation where we can explore creatively. With a proper plan, we can adapt within a structure while remaining faithful to the original intention.

Business can be complicated. Video projects can get messy. But, with thorough planning, a prepared team, and clear communication, we can accomplish our goals. 


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