“A surgeon needs to fully understand the process of performing an operation, but he or she also has to be able to improvise once the procedure begins.”
sing this analogy, Peter R. Dickson, Knight Ridder Eminent Scholar in Global Marketing, professor, and chair of the Department of Marketing in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University, sets out the paradox of marketing planning.
“People too strong in planning—which tends to emphasize discipline, a careful review of past and current situations, and the patient development of a thorough plan of execution—may lack the flexibility and adaptability to respond to a changing competitive environment or may be too focused to see potential drawbacks,” he said.
Dickson also argues that there is no such thing as a single marketing plan document.
“There are three critical documents and organizations need to allow for both discipline and creativity in each,” he said. “The first report describes and analyzes the situation, taking a comprehensive view that looks at the whole market and that allows for creative insight. The second is a creative and problem-solving report in which alternatives are evaluated—in a very disciplined way—within the context of the first report. Finally, the implementation document charts the plan and all its steps. Creativity is needed here also, because if people concentrate only on the details, they may overlook problems.”
Dickson and a colleague published their ideas in an award-winning article, “The Paradox of a Marketing Planning Capability,” which appeared in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, a premier journal. The survey-based research looked at the practices of a couple hundred North American companies.
“We worked with The Conference Board, a not-for-profit organization that conducts research and provides forums for sharing information about management and the marketplace,” said Dickson, who has won recognition for a total of seven research papers, five of the awards coming since his arrival at the College in 2000.