The Role of Planning in Action

The following article is excerpted from a lecture by Prem Chopra at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga in September 2006. The text of the entire lecture can be found in Masters of the Game: Reaching Beyond the Nexus to Success and Happiness.

Continuing with Phase II – Planning, Organizing, Staffing, and Guiding

Once you have set your goals and developed your strategy, you are ready for the Sixth StepPlanning. A plan is nothing but a road map to a goal that marks the accomplishment of your mission—the mission to which you committed in Step 3. Some managers and even some reputable management schools consider the setting of goals as a part of planning, while others might even draft a plan from which they derive goals. How can you make a plan before you have a goal? How can you make a plan to go to Los Angeles from Atlanta and arrive there on a specified date, if you have not already decided to get there on that date? It is the difference between being reactive or proactive. In a flowing river, or brook, it is the difference between a speed-boat and a floating straw or a log. One is navigating with the purpose, following a plan, while the other is at the mercy of the whitewaters.

You can consider the entire Twelve-Step Framework for Purposeful Action to be a framework for planning. You can plan any action, proactively, by going through these twelve steps. We have been using this framework for business planning in our graduate classes on finance and entrepreneurship for more than a decade. Today, hundreds of our graduates use this framework for business planning and decision-making in their occupations as engineering managers, leaders and entrepreneurs.

With a plan in hand, you are ready to build your Organization. This is the Seventh Step in the Framework for Purposeful Action. Using the example of the traveler to Los Angeles, organization involves determining the numbers of drivers, passengers, mechanics, and etcetera, required for the trip. In addition to the plan and strategy, you need specific domain knowledge to design the appropriate organization to implement the strategy effectively. To accomplish this step for a large project or organization, you also need to possess or have access to knowledge and skills in the areas of human resources and budgeting.

Once the organizational structure is set, you are ready for the Eighth Step of Staffing the organization and providing the needed Resources. The accomplished manager must know how to attract and recruit the right people for each task. Then, in addition to providing the staff with the necessary resources, you must explain to all team members clearly what their responsibilities are. The organization is a whole made up of different parts. If an organization is committed to quality it should have the appropriate training programs in place for all involved. Staffing and resources are covered in detail in the areas of human resources and budgeting.

The Ninth Step, of Guidance, which some people refer to as direction, involves mobilizing the organization and guiding all effort toward the company’s goals, in accordance with the plan. This step demands the highest level of domain knowledge and skill. This is when the real work of the organization begins and the traveler embarks on the journey with the entire team. In addition to your plan, you have on-board all needed provisions for accomplishing the mission, and consequently for realizing the vision.

With the Ninth Step underway, purposeful action is in full swing, and you are now navigating the whitewaters to your destination.

The archer has released the arrow. Attention will next be focused upon where the arrow lands.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.