Identifying Barriers to Planning

Various barriers can inhibit successful planning. In order for plans to be effective and to yield the desired results, managers must identify any potential barriers and work to overcome them. The common barriers that inhibit successful planning are as follows:
  • Inability to plan or inadequate planning. Managers are not born with the ability to plan. Some managers are not successful planners because they lack the background, education, and/or ability. Others may have never been taught how to plan. When these two types of managers take the time to plan, they may not know how to conduct planning as a process.
  • Lack of commitment to the planning process. The development of of a plan is hard work; it is much easier for a manager to claim that he or she doesn't have the time to work through the required planning process than to actually devote the time to developing a plan. (The latter, of course, would save them more time in the long run!) Another possible reason for lack of commitment can be fear of failure. As a result, managers may choose to do little or nothing to help in the planning process.
  • Inferior information. Facts that are out‐of‐date, of poor quality, or of insufficient quantity can be major barriers to planning. No matter how well managers plan, if they are basing their planning on inferior information, their plans will probably fail.
  • Focusing on the present at the expense of the future. Failure to consider the long‐term effects of a plan because of emphasis on short‐term problems may lead to trouble in preparing for the future. Managers should try to keep the big picture — their long‐term goals — in mind when developing their plans.
  • Too much reliance on the organization's planning department. Many companies have a planning department or a planning and development team. These departments conduct studies, do research, build models, and project probable results, but they do not implement plans. Planning department results are aids in planning and should be used only as such. Formulating the plan is still the manager's responsibility.
  • Concentrating on controllable variables. Managers can find themselves concentrating on the things and events that they can control, such as new product development, but then fail to consider outside factors, such as a poor economy. One reason may be that managers demonstrate a decided preference for the known and an aversion to the unknown.

The good news about these barriers is that they can all be overcome. To plan successfully, managers need to use effective communication, acquire quality information, and solicit the involvement of others.