Select the best course of action.
Develop an alternate plan.
Test plans for completeness.
Following this sequence will not always assure a
good plan, but it will eliminate many problems and
pitfalls you would normally encounter in planning.
Analyze the Objective
First, you must break the objective into components
and establish relationships among them. You must
answer the questions: What specific operations must I
achieve to accomplish the objective, and how are those
operations related to each other? Then you must analyze
each operation to determine what is needed to perform
it. In this way, you form specific tasks. By grouping
these tasks, you can determine the specific jobs to be
Evaluate the Situation
When you evaluate the situation, try to determine
what you need to reach your goal. Use your knowledge
and experience to examine available resources, policies,
and procedures. Do you have enough manpower,
supplies and equipment, space, and time to get the job
done? How about your standard operating procedures
(SOPs) and policies? You may need to coordinate with
other managers and/or staff personnel to get what you
need. If some are unable to help you, this will have an
impact on your plans. To evaluate, in this case, means
you must look at the situation carefully before you begin
Consider All Possible Alternatives
Now that you know what has to be done and what
is available, you are ready to consider how to do it. The
objective, available resources, and situation all tend to
limit your alternatives. One very effective technique for
generating alternatives is brainstorming. Gather a
group of people (your workers, peers, and other
concerned managers are excellent resources), explain
the objective, what resources are available, and any
existing limitations. Then ask for ideas. You must resist
the temptation to arbitrarily prejudge or discard possible
courses of action. Often a half-baked scheme will trigger
a better idea from another source.
Selecting the Best Course of Action
After you have met with your people, choose the
best course of action to carry out the mission. In making
this decision, consider the methods and techniques
required by each possible course. Determine which
methods are most appropriate and which to avoid. If you
choose a widely different course of action from that
followed in the past, be prepared to design and develop
new techniques as needed. Make sure your action will
meet all required deadlines. Also, be certain that your
plan fits the assigned objective, is feasible under present
circumstances, and will dovetail with the command
mission and established policies. You may develop a
beautiful plan; but if the manpower requirements for it
are out of line with available resources, you will be
fighting an uphill battle.
Once you have decided on a viable plan, you must
design controls for the process. Good controls will allow
you to keep in touch with the effectiveness and
efficiency of your plan. They will let you identify and
correct problems before they reach epic proportions. A
good plan must be flexible enough to respond to
required adjustments dictated by the control process.
Develop an Alternate Plan
Once you have developed a gem of a plan, expect it
to fail! An alternate plan can save the day if the worst
should happen. If conditions should change or resources
should suddenly become unavailable, your original plan
could well become unworkable. So develop a full-blown
alternate plan at the beginning; you may not have
enough time later.
Test All Plans for Completeness
After you have selected the best course of action and
an alternate plan, check them both for completeness. Do
they answer the six questions what, when, where, how,
why, and who? Are they both adequate? Do they
comply with current directives? Look at the overall
plans and at the details. Another brainstorming session
designed to pick holes in the plans might help.
THE TIME ELEMENT IN PLANNING
Comprehensive planning can be time-consuming.
As a result, you will frequently need to go ahead with
the several planning steps without having all the facts.
Flexibility is the key to planning under these
circumstances. You must allow for changes as new
information or alternatives occur. Give due