Getting caught up on my reading & came across this excellent description of design vs planning, h/t to Shane Parrish (who uncovered it), Neil Perkin (where I first read it) & the U.S. Army / Marine Core Counterinsurgency Field Manual (who wrote it!). Helps me clarify my thoughts on the planner/strategist debate (Is there a difference? What is it?).

"While both activities seek to formulate a way to bring about preferable futures, they are cognitively different. Planning applies established procedures to solve a largely understood problem within an accepted framework. Design inquires into the nature of a problem to conceive a framework for solving that problem. In general, planning is problem solving, while design is problem setting. Where planning focuses on generating a plan - a series of executable actions - design focuses on learning about the nature of an unfamiliar problem."


This matches up with my experience.  In brand planning & campaign planning - planners are briefed on a known problem (lack of awareness), apply accepted frameworks (insight mining) and sell a series of executable steps to achieve solution = a strategy. Whereas my experience in design thinking involved discovering an unknown problem (how would the end user really use it?), designing a(n) experiment(s) (design sprint workshop) and translating insights into a workable solution = a prototype. 

Said another way, as the uncertainty surrounding the problem goes up, effectiveness of known procedures goes down.