Know Where You are Going

Almost everyone accepts the principle that a manager, like his company, should know what he wants to do, what he wants to accomplish, where he is going. Planning has become a byword in literature of management. There are books, chapters, articles and speeches on it; there are courses on it in schools; it is in some executives’ titles, as in “Vice-President in Charge of Planning” or “Manager-Planning and Procedures”.

But what is happening in words is not happening in action. Time and again managers think they have planning when they don’t. They take a day’s problems in stride but neglect to relate their decisions to long-range aims or objectives. There is no clear understanding in their offices and departments as to actions that tare needed to implement plans and programs. Of all the criticisms that are aimed at businessmen, perhaps the most justified is that they fail to clarify their long range objectives for their people.

When you don’t have well thought out goals, you can’t, of course, give your best to the company. But the company is not the only loser. You personally lose, too. Objectives are wonderful motivators that you can scarcely do without. When you have them, you commit yourself to getting certain things done by a certain time. You put the pressure on yourself to produce, to keep things moving. You find it easier and more natural to ask the right questions, to get the right information, to make the right comparisons. People sense more direction, more confidence in your actions. Your career is the gainer when have a plan of actions.

So much of our planning-in business as in life in general-is dreamlike. Most dreams seem completely real as we float through dreamland, and so do many of our plans. In the happy moments when they appear, they seem wise, realistic, and sometimes inspiring. But they are not effective- no more than dreams are effective. Now, we all know that plans must be elastic, subject to all sorts of changes. We know that the plan must control us in the future-that it should be a guide, not a dictator.

But this is not an excuse for lack of planning. In fact, just the opposite is true; the more clearly we understand the plans are not rigid, the freer we can be in making them specific. Plans need not be detailed blueprints of action, but they should be workable outlines. And they should be detailed enough so that it is clear when you plan to start this and when you plan to finish that.

Author: KPO

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