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Overcoming the Barriers to Planning | Management

This article throws light upon the eleven ways for overcoming the barriers to planning in an organisation. The ways are: 1. Starting at the Top 2. Recognising the Limits to Planning 3. Communication 4. Participation 5. Revision and Updating 6. Contingency Planning 7. Discussion 8. Training 9. Explanation of Planning Objectives 10. Creation of a Planning Climate 11. Use of Aids of Planning.

Way # 1. Starting at the Top:

Most plans fail largely due to lack of top management support. So, it logically follows that to make the planning process a success effective planning must start at the top of the organisation.

As R.W. Griffins has suggested:

“Top management must take the lead in establishing the importance of planning and in determining the mission and strategy the organisation is to follow. Such action sets the stage for subsequent planning at lower levels and also serves to reinforce the importance of planning to everyone in the organisation.”

Way # 2. Recognising the Limits to Planning:

Another guideline for effective planning is to recognise its limitations.

As George A. Steiner, an authority on strategic planning, comments:

“Planning is not a panacea that will solve all of an organisation’s problems, nor is it an iron-clad set of procedures to be followed at any cost. Managers should recognise that good planning does not necessarily ensure success and that adjustments and expectations are to be expected as the plan unfolds”.

Way # 3. Communication:

It is not enough that planning be initiated at the top. It must also be properly communicated to others in the organisation.

What is really important is that everyone involved in the planning process should know what the overriding organisational strategy is, what the various functional strategies are, and how they are all to be integrated and coordinated to avoid unnecessary overlapping of planning effects or duplication of planning exercises.

Way # 4. Participation:

Line and functional managers have always some valuable and useful infor­mation to contribute. And since they are the people who execute the plans, their involve­ment and participation is absolutely vital for the success of planning.

Moreover, since all people are more committed to plans that they have helped to shape, even in a centralised organisation or in an organisation that uses a planning staff, managers from various levels in the organisation should be involved in the planning process.

Way # 5. Revision and Updating:

With changing business environment there is need for constant control plan revision and updating. This means that planning has to be treated as a dynamic process in which long-range and intermediate plans are frequently revised and updated in response to new information and the completion of short-range plans.

Way # 6. Contingency Planning:

This type of planning is especially useful when environmental turbulence is likely. As Peter F. Drucker has pointed out, proper contingency planning enables the organisation to avoid ‘crisis’ management. As he put it – “in case a contingency occurs, the prepared organisation will be able to make a smooth to the appropriate contin­gency plan rather than having to react hastily by throwing a new plan altogether on short notice”.

Way # 7. Discussion:

The manager must be helped to understand that the intuitive approach to his problems cannot always resolve present problems or prevent future difficulties.

A discus­sion with the manager — in which the fundamentals of planning are outlined, with emphasis on the solution of day-to-day and long-term problems — may go some way towards removing psychological barriers to planning. Illustration of successes achieved by planning, at all levels, may be given to the manager.

Way # 8. Training:

Technical barriers to effective planning can be overcome through proper training in planning techniques, particularly in relation to the definition of managerial problems and the analysis of alternative courses of action.

Practice in the interpretation of data and in simple forecasting techniques will assist in overcoming some types of difficulty. A training programme designed to improve a man­ager’s level of numeracy can bring about a more positive approach to the process of planning.

Way # 9. Explanation of Planning Objectives:

Misunderstanding of the nature of planning can be removed by an explanation of its objectives in terms related to the manager’s own practical experience. It has to be explained to the manager that planning is but one function of management, although an important one.

Way # 10. Creation of a Planning Climate:

Fourthly, where the manager’s supervisors are able to show their own involvement with planning, where they are able to formulate and publicize objectives, a ‘planning climate’ can be created in which the manager is stimulated to examine the nature of his difficulties and to take steps in overcoming them.

Way # 11. Use of Aids of Planning:

Finally, to make planning effective, the manager should know about some aids for developing effective plans. These are in addition to the four suggestions but forward above for overcoming the barriers. The traditional aids to planning are collect­ing as much information as possible, using various sources of information (internal and external) and involving others who can be helpful in the planning process.

(a) As much information as possible:

The manager can enhance the probability of having both the proper quality and quantity of information needed by acquiring as much informa­tion (data) as possible within the limits set by money and time.

(b) Multiple sources of information:

A manager is a jack of all trades. Thus by developing multiple sources of information he can overcome the limitations brought about by focusing on a goal from one view-point only. Additional critical information can be gathered from accounting, legal, personnel and engineering departments. It is necessary to cultivate all potential sources.

The generalization is that planning is most effective when managers at all levels of the organisa­tion recognise the purposes, values and limitations of planning and when they understand the importance of treating planning as a major function of management. When this basic message is forgotten easily and quickly most plans fail.

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