When you set your sights on a new goal, whether that’s a new project or you’ve secured a client, it’s easy to get ahead of yourself, jumping straight into an execution mindset. What tactics are involved, what will the visuals look like, how much will this cost?


Pump the brakes.


Strategic planning is step one, and the foundation you lay for the successful execution of your work. Skipping this step means you’ve missed out on asking yourself one fundamental question: why?


Travel back in time to your university days and consider the R.A.C.E. model (Research, Analysis, Communication, Evaluation), a four-step process for communications planning. While this model from 1963 isn’t always the most relevant solution in our fast-paced and ever-evolving industry (and the world), it has its merits.


At its core, R.A.C.E. forces us to think holistically, work sequentially, and link each stage back to our research and insights. Our modern interpretation of this model is something we like to call the “So What?” test.


At any point in your planning or execution, take a step back and ask yourself “so what?” Reflect on the goals you’ve set out and consider whether what you are doing connects back to and advances those objectives. It’s a sobering question and sure-fire way to find out if you’ve lost sight of the bigger picture.


Questioning your work is an important personal feedback loop that helps you stay on track. Sometimes you might not have the answers, but simply asking them is an exercise in being mindful, or in contemplating other possibilities.


Practice asking questions, and practice self-awareness. When you ask the right questions, you can have important revelations others may miss – and that’s where your value as a communicator lies.