Assumption-Based Planning: A Tool for Reducing Avoidable Surprises

Assumption-Based Planning: A Tool for Reducing Avoidable Surprises

Assumption-Based Planning: A Tool for Reducing Avoidable Surprises

Assumption-Based Planning: A Tool for Reducing Avoidable Surprises

Synopsis

Unwelcome surprises in the life of any organization can often be traced to the failure of an assumption that the organization's leadership didn't anticipate or had "forgotten". Assumption-based planning (ABP) is a tool for identifying as many as possible assumptions underlying the plans of an organization and bringing them explicitly into the planning process. This book presents a variety of techniques for rooting out those vulnerable, crucial assumptions. It also presents steps for monitoring the vulnerable assumptions of a plan by taking actions to control them where possible and preparing for potential failure where control is not possible.

Excerpt

Assumption-Based Planning (ABP) started out in 1987 as an approach Morlie Hammer Levin and I developed to solve a U. S. Army strategic planning problem. Thanks to the fall of the Berlin Wall two years later, that early abp work initiated an ongoing conversation with the Army about how to do planning in the Army's newly and differently uncertain times. the use of abp was first described in James A. Dewar and Morlie H. Levin,Assumption-Based Planning for Army 21, Santa Monica, Calif.: rand, R-4172-A, 1992, and abp itself was first documented in James A. Dewar, Carl H. Builder, William M. Hix, and Morlie H. Levin,Assumption-Based Planning: a Planning Tool for Very Uncertain Times, Santa Monica, Calif.: rand, MR-114-A, 1993. As abp evolved through various Army and other applications, it turned into a planning tool—a self-contained process with a specific planning purpose—that is applicable to any kind of plan or planning process. abp continues to evolve, but its fundamentals have changed little in its last several applications. For that reason, it seemed appropriate to document formally what we have learned about it.

The careful reader will already have noticed that I use both the singular and plural first-person pronouns in talking about abp. My coauthors on the original abp documentation were intimately involved in both the intellectual development of abp and in the learning process that accompanied its application to real planning problems. When I talk about what I know about abp, then, it would make me very uncomfortable to use the singular pronoun. However, I have no such reservations when giving personal opinions. For that reason, I have tried to be careful about who is implicated in any statement I make . . .

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