Planning – Definition, characteristics, importance, and types - GovtVacancy.Net

Planning – Definition, characteristics, importance, and types - GovtVacancy.Net
Posted on 28-10-2022

Planning – Definition, characteristics, importance, and types

Planning is the function by which a course of action is forged in advance to shape projected events. In other words, it is a process that allows determining in advance what must be done and implies goal orientation and the visualization of alternatives.

Resolving the uncertainty of the future and finding out how to exercise control over those unknown events to come are mental processes characteristic of the human race. In this sense, planning is an instrument that, when used well, can provide certainty, generate trust and provide the foundations to promote the success of projects of any order: personal, group, professional, organizational, business, regional, national or global. Do you want to know the definition of planning, what are its main characteristics, why is it important and what are its types? Continue reading!

What is planning, definition and concept

Planning is the function by which objectives are set, courses of action are devised to achieve them and the most convenient is selected based on the projection of its consequences and the resources available.

It can be considered as a tool that is used in the search to make an imagined future come true and, in this way, make an approach to the projected goals. Specifically, it is one of the first steps in the direction of what we want to achieve.

Planning is based on the cognitive function called prospecting. This consists of the ability to look into the future in a flexible way and conceptualize a world that has not yet happened, but that may happen, in addition, prospecting encompasses a wide variety of mental tasks, from simple sensory prediction to the creation of detailed long-term plans. In this way, the concept of planning is understood as a mental activity in which future situations are simulated, which facilitates the construction of viable goals and the forecast of actions that contribute to their achievement. Whether you formally formulate a plan or not, your brain will plan both to avoid uncertainty and to increase your perception of control.

Likewise, planning can be interpreted as a series of decision-making phases that are chained according to what action is executed and what is the result it produces. For example, if your plan is to “go to the cinema”, then you will decide, among others, on the following factors: which movie to see, in which theater, at what time, which route you will take to get there, who will accompany you, etc. In addition, each of these deliberations is mediated by other elements, determining which movie you are going to see can be due to, among others, which titles are on the billboard (external analysis) and your previous experiences with this or that particular genre (internal analysis). . Likewise, each of these small decisions will lead you to move through a defined sequence of actions (plan),

Definitions according to various authors

In the following table you can see how the notion of planning varies according to the criteria of each of the cited authors, all of them agreeing on the future orientation that distinguishes this function: 

Planning Definition Author
Evaluate and foresee the future. Henri Fayol
The design of a desired future and effective ways to reach it. Russell Ackoff
The ability to control the future consequences of present actions. Aaron Wildavsky
The advance configuration of a sequence of actions to carry out a specific task. Shallice, Broadbent, and Weiskrantz
The process of selecting an action or sequence of actions in terms of the desirability of its results. Mattar and Lengyel
An executive function that incorporates the ability to anticipate, influence, and control the nature and direction of change. Dave McFarland
Planning, like utopia, describes a desirable future situation, but unlike utopia, it specifies the means to achieve it. Martin Mayerson
Decide in the present what will be done in the future. Planning allows to harmonize the available resources with the objectives and the opportunities. Philip Kotler
Arrange in advance what to do, how to do it, when to do it and who is going to do it. Planning bridges the gap between where we are and where we want to be. Koontz and O'Donell
A deliberate social or organizational activity by which an optimal strategy for future action is developed to achieve a desired set of goals or to solve novel problems in complex contexts, accompanied by the power and intention to commit resources and act as necessary to implement the strategy. chosen strategy. Ernst Alexander

Planning Characteristics

The characteristics of planning are the properties that identify it and make it a truly unique and essential function for individual and group actions. The following is a summary of its main qualities:

  • Future orientation . Planning always points forward, mainly, it is directed to an objective that you want to achieve, to a point that you want to reach.
  • Causality . Above all, his purpose is to make the future different from what it would have been without his intervention. Therefore, it has a causality function between the planned actions and the desired future results.
  • Continuity . Planning is not an action of a single effort, in fact, its permanent updating is required to continue achieving the projected goals.
  • Flexibility . Since it is linked to the future, planning requires the ability to adapt to change and possible interference that may arise.
  • amplitude _ It is a function that is carried out in any field and activity. Both students and teachers plan, the housewife and the bank executive can do it alike.
  • Rationality . It implies that the place you want to reach is attainable, that is, that what is planned is feasible and consistent with the available resources.
  • Effectiveness . Although it is not action-oriented, it is committed to bringing actions, strategies, projects or programs to a successful conclusion.
  • Eventuality . Although it is an ongoing function, it is not a routine task. In other words, planning must be taken into account that, although many problems are similar, each circumstance is unique and, therefore, requires its own approach.

Importance of planning

The importance of planning lies in the fact that, thanks to it, humanity has made incredible advances in all areas and since ancient times. As an example of this are evolutionary activities such as group gathering, tool creation, organized hunting, the development of agriculture and with it that of towns, cities, states and nations, which require a complex planning. 

Mainly, planning is important because:

  • It makes it possible to impact the future instead of accepting it . Based on it, the possibilities of making things happen as desired are increased.
  • It provides a clear picture of the right direction to go . Planning determines guidelines, sets directions and structures processes, thus limiting possible doubts and errors.
  • It empowers doing more with less . Planning, well executed, increases the productivity of the processes by favoring, for example, the cutting out of superfluous tasks.
  • It allows to reduce the uncertainty . It is a means to make conjectures and forecasts of the future, thus laying the foundations to face possible unforeseen events.
  • Promotes innovation . Given that new ideas can arise at any stage of the planning process , the seed of novel initiatives is sown.
  • Facilitates decision making . In a certain way, the guidelines set, the structure created and the security provided by planning, allow decisions to be made with less fear of unexpected consequences.
  • Provides direction and sense of purpose . By emphasizing the goals and the steps that must be taken to achieve them, it facilitates the coordination of efforts and tasks effectively.

Planning Types

The types of planning can meet different classifications, without being particularly exhaustive, we have the following:

  • According to its nature:
    1. Formal . It is supported by a written plan that is easy to follow, is detailed and often covers a long period of time.
    2. Casual . It is mentally conceived, verbally shared, simple, and generally short in time.
  • According to your time frame:
    1. Long term . The future is planned with a horizon that goes between 3 and 5 years, although it can be longer.
    2. Short term . They are compact and actionable programs that serve to break down what is planned in the long term, in general they do not exceed one year.

In addition, when it comes to business planning, the following denominations are recognized, among others:

  • For your coverage:
    1. General . Specifically, it determines global goals and steps needed to meet them in light of current and future resources. For example, strategic planning is one of the notorious cases of this type.
    2. Functional . It covers the objectives and courses of action of a specific functional area of ​​the business. Namely, financial planning, sales planning, production planning or human resources.
  • According to the administrative level:
    1. Corporate . It is general and long-term, formulated by managers.
    2. business . It triggers high-level planning, it is formulated by middle management.
    3. Functional . It mobilizes the mid-level plan, it is established by the operational commands.
  • Obeying the amplitude of its orientation:
    1. Strategic . It is long-term (several years), includes the organization as a whole, likewise, its content is generic, produces the plan to which all other plans are subordinated and is formulated by managers.
    2. Tactic . It is formulated in the medium term (annual), it covers each department, its content is also detailed and it is the responsibility of the managers of each functional area.
    3. Operative . Short-term (immediate), it includes individual tasks, its content is specific and it is in the hands of the employees.
  • Based on your frequency of use:
    1. Permanent . It is used over and over again as the situation requires, is formulated for long periods, and provides general guidelines. Examples are manuals of methods and procedures.
    2. transitory . It is produced to meet the requirements of particular situations so that the specific objectives are met in a limited period of time. An example of this type of planning are budgets.
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