Six Barriers to Effective Planning
Benjamin Franklin said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This axiom still holds true when taking on a new project or developing a business plan for the future. Effective planning requires a thorough understanding of current conditions and future goals. One major barrier to effective planning begins with a personal or corporate attitude that fears change.
When communication within or between groups breaks down or doesn't exist, planning becomes ineffective. Business plans need to clearly outline the current situation and goals and objectives along with prioritized strategies and tactics in a way that everyone involved can understand. Without clear communication, planning leads to replication of effort and people working at cross purposes when they should be working together.
Poor communication may be caused by undeveloped skills, rivalries, misunderstanding of the planning process or excessive complexity within the planning group structure.
The difficulties of the planning process are not always the result of accident or incompetence. Most people who are going to be affected by change don't like the idea and resist it. Resistance to planning for change within organizations can take the form of malingering, undermining of morale or straightforward opposition. Contingency plans to accommodate resistance should be included in any comprehensive planning process.
If plans become excessively ambitious, they can sometimes be stymied by a simple lack of resources on the part of a company or organization. This is particularly true if planning involves physical plant renovation or expansion. Grand plans are much less expensive to create on paper than in bricks and mortar, and planners can easily lose track of the eventual cost of their plans.
Without an honest analysis of the current situation bereft of emotions, planning cannot be effective. If you don't know where you are, you cannot plot a map or plan to take you where you want to go. All effective plans start with an honest review of the project or company's specific situation, its competition and a market analysis of its customer demographics. A forecasting analysis can also help make a reasonable plan that can be carried out.
The human mind tends to base its thoughts, activities and expectations on what has happened in the past. Often, this is a valuable trait, but in a planning process it can become a liability. If planning requires the development of new ways of doing things, an inability to overcome the past on the part of the planners can become a liability that obstructs innovative thought. Albert Einstein said that people cannot solve their problems with the same thinking that created them.
Inertia is most frequently a problem for large and long-established organizations. Inertia can be created by a combination of archaic infrastructure, calcified modes of thinking, oversize bureaucracy and fear of change. Forward thinking elements within an organization that want to engage in creative planning may have to spend a lot of time and energy overcoming the inertia of things that have gone before.