The military saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” is very true. Without a plan, managers are set up to encounter errors, waste, and delays. A plan, on the other hand, helps a manager organize resources and activities efficiently and effectively to achieve goals.
The advantages of planning are numerous. Planning fulfills the following objectives:
- Gives an organization a sense of direction. Without plans and goals, organizations merely react to daily occurrences without considering what will happen in the long run. For example, the solution that makes sense in the short term doesn't always make sense in the long term. Plans avoid this drift situation and ensure that short‐range efforts will support and harmonize with future goals.
- Focuses attention on objectives and results. Plans keep the people who carry them out focused on the anticipated results. In addition, keeping sight of the goal also motivates employees.
- Establishes a basis for teamwork. Diverse groups cannot effectively cooperate in joint projects without an integrated plan. Examples are numerous: Plumbers, carpenters, and electricians cannot build a house without blueprints. In addition, military activities require the coordination of Army, Navy, and Air Force units.
- Helps anticipate problems and cope with change. When management plans, it can help forecast future problems and make any necessary changes up front to avoid them. Of course, surprises — such as the 1973 quadrupling of oil prices — can always catch an organization short, but many changes are easier to forecast. Planning for these potential problems helps to minimize mistakes and reduce the “surprises” that inevitably occur.
- Provides guidelines for decision making. Decisions are future‐oriented. If management doesn't have any plans for the future, they will have few guidelines for making current decisions. If a company knows that it wants to introduce a new product three years in the future, its management must be mindful of the decisions they make now. Plans help both managers and employees keep their eyes on the big picture.
- Serves as a prerequisite to employing all other management functions. Planning is primary, because without knowing what an organization wants to accomplish, management can't intelligently undertake any of the other basic managerial activities: organizing, staffing, leading, and/or controlling.