Planning: A Gap Bridging Instrument

What is Planning

Planning is a process of setting objectives and determining the course of action to achieve the set objectives. Planning is also concerned with identifying alternatives and selecting the best alternatives for implementation. Technically, planning is about deciding beforehand on what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and who to do it. Some people call planning a process of peeping into the future. By peeping into the future, Planning enables managers to make the appropriate decision of the organizational direction before it reaches there. Through Planning, managers can build the gap between now and the future of the organization. 

Planning is a primary of the four essential management functions others being  Organizing, Leadership, and Control. Business and Management Gurus abbreviated the four functions as   P-O-L-C as described in the diagram below.

Importance of  Planning

The importance of planning stems from its ability to build the gap between the present and the future of the organization. Through planning managers make some predictions of the future situations thus, minimizing the danger of not meeting objectives. Out of the many advantages of planning, the following are the top five advantages of having planning in place. 

  • By setting an organizational goal and determining the means to achieve the goal, Planning becomes a direction-setting instrument of the organization.
  • By predetermining the tasks to be completed, Planning minimizes the chances of risk of not achieving objectives. 
  • Planning reduces the possibility of chaos and confusion in the organization by decreasing overlapping and wasteful activities.
  • As a primary function of management, planning cheers up innovative ideas in the organization.  
  • Planning is a decision-making aiding technique of the organization. 

Characteristics of Planning

Planning is also an approach to problem-solving as it provides a systematic way of viewing problems and developing a set of actions necessary for solving the problem. Specific features of planning that describe the rationale (why planning) for planning include the following:-

  • Planning typically offers a unique opportunity for information-rich and productively focused discussions between the various managers involved.
  • Planning enables increased focus on, and coordinated action, while minimizing wasted time and ensuring there are benchmarks for the control process.
  • Planning facilitates decision-making and choosing from among alternative future courses of action.
  • Planning is a forecasting technique.
  • Planning answers the question of how to of the organization.
  • Planning answers the question of how much and how many resources are necessary to achieve a set objective.
  • Planning is a gap bridging instrument between ‘now and the future. The future of all organizations depends on the quality of plans made by the manager. The following figure describes planning as a gap bridging instrument.

Through planning the manager can know where the organization is going to be short, how will the organization reach, where it wants to be, and how many and types of resources are needed. Thus, the importance of planning in achieving organizational goals cannot be overemphasized.

The Planning Process

The planning process involves the following five main stages:

Step 1: Identify problems and needs
Step 2: Develop goals and objectives
Step 3: Develop alternative strategies
Step 4: Select strategies and develop a detailed plan
Step 5: Design a monitoring and evaluation plan setting lies on s