Meaning and Concept
In simple words, planning is deciding in advance what is to be done, when where, how and by whom it is to be done. It bridges the gap from where we are to where we want to go. It includes the selection of objectives, policies, procedures and programs from among alternatives. A plan is a predetermined course of action to achieve a specified goal. It is an intellectual process characterized by thinking before doing. It is an attempt on the part of manager to anticipate the future in order to achieve better performance.
Definitions of Planning
Different authors have given different definitions of planning from time to time. The main definitions are as follows:
“Planning is the thinking process, the organized foresight, the vision based on fact and experience that is required for intelligent action.”Alford and Beatt
“It is deciding in advance what is to be done. When a manager plans, he projects a course of action for further attempting to achieve a consistent co-ordinate structure of operations aimed at the desired results.”Theo Haimann
“Planning is fundamentally choosing and a planning problem arises when an alternative course of action is discovered.”Billy E. Goetz
“It is an intellectual process, conscious determination of course of action, the basing of decision on purpose, facts and considered estimates.”Koontz and O’ Donnell
“A plan is a trap laid to capture the future.”Allen
Nature / Characteristics of Planning
The main characteristics or nature of planning is given below:
1. An Intellectual Process
Planning is an intellectual process of thinking in advance. It is a process of deciding the future on the series of events to follow. It is a process where a number of steps are to be taken to decide the future course of action. Managers or executives have to consider various courses of action, achieve the desired goals, go in details of the pros and cons of every course of action and then finally decide what course of action may suit them best.
2. Planning Contributes to the Objectives
It contributes positively in attaining the objectives of the business enterprise. Since plans are there from the very first stage of operation, the management is able to handle every problem successfully. Plans try to set everything right. A purposeful, sound and effective planning process knows how and when to tackle a problem. This leads to success. Objectives thus are easily achieved.
3. Primary Function of Management
Planning is the primary function of management. It precedes other functions in the management process. Certainly, setting of goals to be achieved and lines of action to be followed precedes the organization, direction, supervision and control. No doubt, it precedes other functions of management. It is primary requisite before other managerial functions step in. But all functions are inter-connected. It is mixed in all managerial functions but there too it gets precedence. It thus gets primary everywhere.
4. A continuous Process
It is a continuous process and a never ending activity of a manager in an enterprise based upon some assumptions which may or may not come true in the future. Therefore, the manager has to go on modifying revising and adjusting plans in the light of changing circumstances.
“Planning is a continuous process and there is no end to it. It involves continuous collection, evaluation and selection of data, and scientific investigation and analysis of the possible alternative courses of action and the selection of the best alternative.”George R. Terry
5. Planning Pervades Managerial Activities
It is the function of every managerial personnel. The character, nature and scope of planning may change from personnel to personnel but the planning as an action remains intact. According to Billy E. Goetz, “Plans cannot make an enterprise successful. Action is required, the enterprise must operate managerial planning seeks to achieve a consistent, coordinated structure of operations focused on desired trends. Without plans, action must become merely activity producing nothing but chaos.”
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