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Planning Techniques

Updated on January 5, 2010



Planning is an anticipatory theoretical activity which is undertaken to accommodate the future course of events. Any activity that is intended to cater to the present requirement may not adapt to the future hence such activities have to be carried out in such a way that they respond to future occurrences.

Planning can be defined as a process of doing orderly managed sequences of actions to achieve the targeted goal or goals. In other word it is defined as foresight in formulating and implementing programmers and policies. It is generally oriented for future and present as well. Planning can be applied in any field. It is generally focused on resource allocation over a time period for sustainable development. It is done for social welfare which is supported by politics as well as resources. Successful planning is generally guided by past experience. Besides this, criteria for good planning should have answer of questions like why to plan? , how? For whom? And by whom?

Planning is a problem solving activity

Ø      German Philosopher Karl Popper said that in the world evolves numerous problems and solve consciously and unconsciously. Solution of the problem is accompanied by other problems which also need to solve. Human beings are always busy solving one or another problem. Ability to solve problems depends on a number of factors including

Ø      Past Experiences

Ø      Motivation

Ø      Emotions

Ø      Flexibility

Ø      Set


In recent terms five approaches for planning process have been developed. These five approaches have been summed up in an acronym as SITAR based on the first letters of Synoptic, Incremental, Transactive, Advocacy and Radical planning. The sitar is a five stringed musical instrument which can be played by performing on a single string at a time or by weaving a blend of harmony and dissonance from all five. The same applies to SITAR as taxonomy of planning theories where each can render a reasonable solo performance in good hands, but fuller possibilities can be created by use of each theory in conjunction with each other. Explanation of each in an individual pattern is done below.

1)      Synoptic Planning

Synoptic planning or the rational comprehensive approach is the dominant tradition and the point of departure for most other planning approaches, which represents either modifications of synoptic rationality or reactions against it. Synoptic planning typically looks at problems from a systems viewpoints, using conceptual or mathematical models relating ends (objective) to means (resources and constraints), with heavy reliance on numbers and quantitative analysis.

Synoptic planning has typically four classical elements:

Ø      Goal setting

Ø      Identification of policy alternatives

Ø      Evaluation of means against ends

Ø      Implementation of decisions

Despite its capacity for great methodical refinement and elaboration, the real power of synoptic approach is its basic simplicity.

2)      Incremental Planning

Charles E. Lindblom, a chief spokesperson for incremental planning, has described it as “partisan mutual adjustment” or “disjoint incrementalism”. According to the Lindblom's theory nature and extent of action is decided by adding an incremental change in the desired direction to status quo. Current institutions and the bargaining process often address planning in this approach. Incrementalism is based not on 'optimization but on satisfying through successive approximations' and also tries to replace "planner's values by bargaining process and vales of existing institutions. The case for incremental planning derives from a series of critisms leveled at synoptic rationality: its insensitivity to existing institutional performances capabilities: its reductionist epistemology; its failure to appreciate the cognitive limits of decision-makers, who cannot “optimize” but only “satisfies” choices by successive aproximations.

3)      Transactive Planning

The Transactive Planning was proposed by Friedman, the approach focuses the target group from goal setting to various steps of planning aiming to be more pragmatic and demand oriented revealing policy issues to be addressed. The basic philosophy of this planning approach is the inclusion of the people in the decision making of the planning for whom the plan is being produced. Thus this approach is based on personal knowledge rather than processed knowledge and aims at social reconstruction through a process of mutual learning.

Transactive planning is carried out in face-to-face contact with people affected by planning decisions, as social learning is a newer version of Transactive planning. This results in decentralized planning process like synoptic approach towards centralization, and allows beneficiary control over the process. In contrast to incremental planning, more emphasis is given to processes of personal and organizational development and not just the achievement of specific functional objectives.

4)      Advocacy Planning

Advocacy calls for development of plural plans rather than a unit plan. The advocacy planning approach is the response to a problem. It is felt that the value free rationality is not possible. In plural planning, planning decision will take place after the debate of the planners representing one for each interest group of the society in the given limits of resources. Going public on issue will make planning a democratically approached solution. Advocacy planning has proven successful as a means of blocking intensive plans and challenging traditional views of a unitary public interest.  One effect of the advocacy movement has been to shift formulation of social policy from backroom negotiations out into the open.

Advocacy planning has been both reflected and contributed to general trend in planning away from neutral objectivity in definitions of social problems in favor of applying more explicit principle of social justice.

5)      Radical Planning

This planning is an ambiguous tradition, with two prominent streams of thinking that acts together. In one side it is associated with spontaneous activitism guided by an idealistic but pragmatic vision of self-reliance and mutual aid. Like Transactive planning it stresses the importance of personal growth, cooperative spirit and freedom from manipulation by anonymous forces. This is radicalism in the literal sense of going back to the roots content to operate in the interstices of establishment.



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    • profile image

      JESSE 5 years ago


    • profile image

      tia kashyap 5 years ago

      thax yr...hope it will help in my proj

    • profile image

      miranda 5 years ago

      thank you ...!4 i know how to make a dcision w/ plan

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      paul 5 years ago

      thanx 4 this hub. Bt still i get confused when reading this theories. Make more simplicity

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      Kevin Darrel B. Sawan 6 years ago

      Good references

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      Stranger 7 years ago

      Thanks for the hub i was searching this kind of article since last few months. Thanks for posting