The Developmental Psychology of Planning: Why, How, and When Do We Plan?

By Sarah L. Friedman; Ellin Kofsky Scholnick | Go to book overview

7
Analysis and Assessment of Planning: The View From Complexity Theory

Siegfried Streufert Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine

Glenda Y. Nogami U.S. Army War College

Planning can vary from simple considerations of "what to do next" to exceedingly complex thought and action sequences that might require months or even years to complete. Yet, all planning activities have something in common. They are based on conceptualizations of the current environment. They are teleological. They anticipate a reality that does not yet (or does not yet quite) exist. They control cognitions and behaviors that are oriented toward goal attainment, involving both thought and action (cf. Scholnick & Friedman, 1987). In addition, planning requires the utilization of the time dimension by interconnecting the present with the future: Planning involves present cognitions and actions that are designed to attain a future outcome or, at least, planning requires "waiting" for an anticipated outcome that may occur in and of itself.

How do people plan? How do they interrelate their present with an anticipated future? How can we measure aspects of planning? Which components of the planning process lend themselves to assessment and which do not?

Before we consider how the planning process might be captured in numerical and graphic formats, we briefly review a theoretical orientation that underlies the assessment procedures we will present. Our conceptualizations of planning and strategic action, as well as the associated measurement techniques, are based on complexity theory. For present purposes, we consider the tenets of complexity theory only where they are needed to communicate our basis for measurement. Readers who are interested in greater detail about the theory are referred to several original sources ( Streufert & Nogami, 1989; Streufert & Streufert, 1978; Streufert & Swezey, 1986; Suedfeld, 1988, 1992).

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