Nature of Planning

The planning function has received increased attention as organizations have grown and management theory has developed. The need for planning becomes more obvious as persons and organizations develop an awareness of the precise nature of their objectives. Therefore, the first of any type of planning is the conscious and explicit statement of the ultimate objectives.

Planning pervades management:

Plans from the view of the top levels of an organization may by overall and broad or they may be the detailed day-to-day type important to the individual employee. Planning at all levels is desirable.

Planning is that function of management in which a conscious choice of patterns of influence is determined for decision makers so that the many decisions will be coordinated for some period of time and will be directed toward the chosen broad goals. The process of planning may begin with a vague hunch or an element of intuition on the part of an individual or a group; yet, good managers will visualize quickly a clear pattern for handling current thought about future actions. In planning for group action, this pattern must provide a reference for all members of the group. Each need not understand all details of all related plans, but must comprehend how that member’s own detailed plans fit into the general overall plan.

A plan is a predetermined course of action. Plans may be tailored to a specific project, or they may be established as standing plans for any future actions. If prospective actions appear to be routine, standard operating procedures have the advantages of economizing on thought processes and making control more uniform. Checklists, developed after considerable detailed a study of a routine set of actions, can serve as a predetermined pattern, which will insure correct future action with a minimum of rethinking on the part of the operator. Emergency fire plans and the detailed countdown program in missile firing are illustrations of standard procedures.

Planning not only involves predetermining a course of action to be taken, relative to a known event, but includes mentally searching for possibilities of future problems that might appear. Techniques of handling uncertainly are extremely valuable. If the probability of the occurrence of several is great enough, alternative plans might be developed. The economics of alternative uses of the managers’ time governs the extent to which alternative plans are desirable. A small business, with limited resources, may devote less time to detailed planning than will a large firm, with its planning staff.

Plans become premises for decisions to be made in the future. Planning provides frames of reference for decisions of individuals in an organization. Policies, as guides too decisions and actions, depend upon the deliberate planning of future possibilities.