The Art of Planning

“Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” Richard Cushing
The human brain processes 400 billion bits of information per second which is an extraordinary and powerful feat when compared to a household computer. However, as human beings we only utilise 2000 bits of this information per second.

The neocortex, the most recently evolved part of the brain, translates this information within three main elements. These elements are described as the observation of ourselves, the observation of our direct environment and the concept of time within these observations. This drastic difference between the processed and utilised information is the result of surrounding complexity, space and time that human beings experience.

In order to simplify the complex realities in which we exist, the art of planning has become not only an art form but also a necessity. Planning is an essential tool to effectively manage time and events. For instance, if one embarks on a journey, the first step is to be sure of where you are going. The end point in relation to the start point will formulate a current location and a pre-set destination.

In order to specify your route from your current location to your destination, a detailed plan needs to be drawn up in order to ensure that you arrive successfully at your destination. The concept of planning has evolved into more than an art form and has become an integral part of managing organisations effectively.

The four functions of management include planning, organising, controlling and leading. Planning as one of these four functions is utilised in modern management and has become critically important to organisations and toward the completion of their strategy.  

As stated in many sources of literature, there are four kinds of planning for sustainable organisations. These include strategic planning, tactical planning, operational planning and contingency planning. Not limited to these are other forms of planning which include succession planning and financial planning.

A strategic plan is a long-term and high-level overview of the organisation which includes its dream, purpose and vision. The strategic plan consists of key objectives which serve as drivers in ensuring that the long-term vision is met.

Tactical planning refers to the planning of activities that contribute toward the achievement of the organisations strategic plan. Operational planning refers to the day-to-day operations and serves as a roadmap to ensure the completion of activities as set out in tactical planning.

Contingency planning is set out to configure an appropriate ‘plan b’, in the event that certain tactics cannot be achieved in the necessary format. Similarly, succession planning promotes thinking and setup of plans to recover from any absence of dedicated resources of these operations.

In order to ensure that an organisation can effectively achieve strategic, tactical and operational tasks derived from the plan, efficient financial resources need to be allocated and, therefore, planned for.

In conclusion, the current realities that the human race face are those of technological and innovative disruptions. The world is changing on a daily basis and agility is needed in order to survive in these existing competitive markets.

However, if we are to face and conquer such complexities of a changing world, the art and science of planning is fundamental in ensuring that we overcome these challenges.

By Storm Thomas
Communications Manager: The Da Vinci Institute
January 2016