9 Major Barriers to Planning | Management

This article throws light upon the nine major barriers to planning in an organisation. The barriers are: 1. Dynamic and Complex Environments 2. Reluctance to Establish Goals 3. Resistance to Change 4. Constraints 5. Time and Expense 6. Psychological Difficulties 7. Technical Problems 8. Misunderstanding 9. Lack of an Appropriate ‘Planning Climate’.

Barrier # 1. Dynamic and Complex Environments:

Perhaps the most important barrier to effective planning is the nature of an organisation’s environment. When, for instance, an electronics firm develops a long-range plan, it tries to take into account how much technological innovation is likely to occur during the time period of planning.

But forecasting such unaccountable events is no doubt very difficult. Anticipating rapid and significant changes certainly complicates the entire planning process. In fact, changes in any of the elements of an organisation’s task or general environments can radically alter the plans and obstruct the entire planning process.

Barrier # 2. Reluctance to Establish Goals:

The second barrier to effective planning is the reluctance on the part of some managers to establish goals for themselves and their units of responsibili­ties. The main reason for this reluctance is lack of confidence or fear or failure. If a manager sets a very specific ‘concise and time-related goals’, then whether he (she) attains it will become clear.

A manager is reluctant to disclose his failure. This means that managers who do consciously or unconsciously try to avoid this degree of accountability are likely to hinder the planning efforts of their organisation. Various other factors also contribute to a man­ager’s reluctance to establish goals, viz., a lack of ability, a lack of information, or a poor reward system.

Barrier # 3. Resistance to Change:

This is the third major barrier to the planning process. Any type of organisational planning involves changing one or two aspects of its current situation. Managers resist change for three main reasons, viz., fear of the unknown, a preference for familiar goals and plans, and, economic insecurity.

Barrier # 4. Constraints:

Another major obstacle to planning arises due to constraints that limit what an organisation can do. For example, an organisation may have such a heavy investment in plant and equipment that it cannot acquire new equipment. Labour contracts can also be major constraints. Other possible constraints include governmental regulations, a shortage of managerial talent, and a scarcity of raw materials.

Barrier # 5. Time and Expense:

Another barrier to effective planning is that good planning is time-con­suming and expensive. Good planning often fails for lack of funds. A planning system often requires for instance, technical expertise or a database that are to be acquired at a cost.

Barrier # 6. Psychological Difficulties:

These difficulties mainly arise from lack of confidence among planners. If there is a fear of the future and unknown there may be a preference for day-to-day activities as opposed to looking into a dim future. Moreover, the fear to adding to one’s work load may also inhibit the desire to plan.

A manager’s attitude may be such that he prefers playing safe or he avoids risk-taking which is inherent in most planning activity. He may be over-confident as to the present, or over- pessimistic as to the future. He may feel that there is hardly any point in planning for a recession which might deepen. His approach may be completely non-rational in relation to the essence of planning.

Barrier # 7. Technical Problems:

Such problems which occur frequently are a major source of difficulty for the managerial planner. If the manager is deficient in organizing ability he will be unable to understand or solve some of the technical organisational problems which accompany planning.

Alternatively, if he lacks training in the effective utilization of this time, he cannot solve the technical demands of arranging time in order to cope with the burdens of planning. In addition, a manager may lack the technical skills necessary to understand the nature of the objectives for which planning is needed.

The control process which he supervises may be inadequate, so that the technical problems of extrapolating from data reflecting past experience (which may be necessary in working out plans) become insoluble.

More often than not it is the very complexity of the planning process and the appearance of the complicated tools for their resolution which create difficulties for management. The nature of the industry may be such that shifting patterns of market demand make produc­tion highly uncertain. So planning without complex techniques is very difficult.

The very process of forecasting — essential for planning — is complicated and inexact. Various forecasting and planning techniques now in use require sound knowledge of mathematics and operations research from managers. Therefore a lack of ability in this area or lack of training in quantitative methods to planning creates insuperable difficulties.

There is hardly any point in recommending to a non-numerate manager a planning approach requiring, for example, the use of linear programming or mathematical probability.

Barrier # 8. Misunderstanding:

A misunderstanding of the planning process can lead to other kinds of difficulty for the manager. Some managers feel that planning is not really necessary. They often believe that planning relies on inexact techniques of prediction, which seem, in effect, to be little better than guesswork. Still others believe that it stifles initiative and requires total adherence to others’ estimates of the future.

All these points indicate that the manager may be unaware of the process and the ends of planning. Furthermore, a biased view that planning is a job for staff, not for line managers, and the misconception that it requires masses of data if it is to be effective, indicates a misinterpretation of the nature of planning which makes consideration of the future really difficult.

Barrier # 9. Lack of an Appropriate ‘Planning Climate’:

Other difficulties associated with managerial planning arise due to lack of an appropriate ‘planning climate’ within the organisation as a whole. There may be lack of top management support. The manager’s superiors may, for instance, be perceived as being uncommitted or even hostile to planning and to the use of objectives.

Planning is unlikely to be effective in an atmosphere in which there is excessive reliance on ‘intuitive hunches’.

Procedural inflexibility (which can weaken the effectiveness of planning) and continued pressure on line managers to act quickly, so that there is not sufficient time to prepare effective plans, may create severe problems for those who have to forecast and act accordingly.

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