Academic journal article IUP Journal of Business Strategy

Strategic Planning Philosophies Continuum

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Business Strategy

Strategic Planning Philosophies Continuum

Article excerpt

Simple planning of projects that involves very few elements, their interrelationships, resources and constraints are easy to visualize and thus can be planned informally. However, when the quantum of related elements increases, compounded by environmental uncertainty, the critical value of complexity is reached. With complexity, it becomes essential to undertake formal planning that helps to overcome chaos. Thus, planning in a project seems a dynamic process, where evolution of thoughts and process metamorphose from turbulent flux to a system that has a pattern and a direction. There exist three types of planning approach: 'satisficed'1 planning justifies stability, continuity and slow change; 'optimized' planning suggests logic, reasoning and optimization through rational thinking; and 'adaptive planning' advocates dynamism, innovation, complexity, diversity, uncertainty and bounded rationality. It is adaptive planning that is closest to the practical world, which can be used as an effective planning method for successful implementation. The planning process in projects experiences long period of little change or equilibrium, where fine-tunings are done, and short periods of rapid change or punctuations in the form of disruption or turbulence caused by the environment. Both the periods of marginal change and limited periods of rapid change can be explained by the reaction towards the 'deep-structure' of planning hierarchy or priorities. The reconfiguration of the deep-structure, initiated by disruption to the hierarchy, can be explained by the dynamics of the different levels of the deep structure, along the three dimensions, viz., 'relationship', 'knowledge' and 'social-culture'. With every disruption in the planning process across the three dimensions, there remains scope for adaptive planning, explained with the help of punctuatedequilibrium model of discontinuous change.


A bleak splinter of light from the sun leaves; travels millions of miles, witnessing the harmonious existence of the stars, planets, satellites; reaches Earth and marvels at the schematic creation that is the wonderful outcome of perfect planning. From the break of the day, right from the first till the last wakeful moment, one incessantly indulges in planning. One plan leads to another, the other to the next, the next to the following and so on, forming a seamless web covering the whole fabric of activity. As a part of the large scheme of affairs, one and all of us are characterized innately with the urge to plan. Therefore, it is evident that action warrants planning, which also remains a basic element in human behavior.

In the present context, planning can be seen as a rationale backed conscientious necessity for fostering the cause of humane amelioration. Effective planning remains an intellectual activity as it aims not merely at enthusiastic anticipation, but effective realization of the same. Moreover, planning is never self-contained at any level, as a plan usually emerges from a larger plan and is itself the basis of following plans.

Initializing and analyzing the attitude or mindset towards effective project planning and the evolution of the thoughts and process towards the same, remains the central objective of this paper. However, it is important to note that project planning mostly accounts for finetunings in the form of contingencies,2 but adaptive planning3 comes into picture when the situation demands for change that has high magnitude and cannot be compensated with marginal change or fine-tunings. Moreover, such change arguably takes place discontinuously, which is explained by the punctuated-equilibrium model.

Philosophies Behind Planning

Planning is an exercise to visualize or anticipate or project the future, and act accordingly (Terry, 1953; Allen, 1958; and Strong, 1965). Moreover, it is an intellectual process, the conscious determination of course of action, the basing of decision on purpose, facts and considered estimates (Koontz and O'Donnell, 1986). …

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