Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare ~ Unknown
What is Planning?
Planning is the skill of predetermining an action. Planning is the managerial activity that establishes the objectives of the organisation and determines the best means of achieving these objectives.
Planning is deciding in advance:
- What needs to be achieved;
- What to do;
- How to do it;
- When to do it;
- Why is should be done;
- Who is going to do it.
Planning is NOT Forecasting. Planning is thinking ahead.
Let’s look at what planning involves
A lot has been written and said about it but for me, the most important part is setting clear objectives of what you want to achieve. Once you have set these goals, you need to devise and control the means needed to achieve your objectives. You also need to give systematic feedback against the expected progress or results.
Planning is also not for the “here-and-now”. If you want to grow your business, you need to have a short-term, mid-term (2 – 5 years) and a long-term plan (5 years plus).
Why long-term planning?
Long-term planning allows you to look ahead as far as possible and builds a picture of your desired outcome. It is also the most flexible of the planning options because you have time to adjust your vision and apply your resources accordingly.
Is long-term planning really necessary? Absolutely! Long-term planning calls for vision, some guts and a lot of nerves. It also calls for an immediate commitment of resources for a vision in the future. It allows you to set in motion a series of events that is difficult to slow down or stop, yet it will determine your company’s future for the greater good (or not – this is where the guts and nerves come it).
Why mid-term planning then?
Mid-term planning affords you the opportunity to constantly monitor, review and adjust your long-term plan, ensuring the best chance of implementation. It is the gateway to your long-term plan. This in-between plan is somewhat flexible and not that costly to make adjustments to.
What about short-term planning then?
As the name indicates, this kind of planning is for the “here-and-now”. You must commit to it instantly and should be communicated properly if you want it to work. Short-term planning is not very flexible and therefore very costly to change.
What’s in it for me?
Besides increasing your ability to think ahead, it encourages you to think analytically and carefully; it improves your decision-making ability.
It ensures that individuals work towards departmental objectives and in turn, that the department work towards organisational objectives. More importantly, it provides the basis of measuring individuals, department as well as organisational performance. It encourages involvement from everyone who in turn increases individual commitment and motivation. Most importantly, it also assists in identifying an area where future problems could lie.