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Welcome to PlanningSkills.COM

This website focuses on a wide variety of topics related to organization and individual planning situations. The primary focus is business planning.

Planning is an anticipatory decision making process that involves situation analysis, forecasting outcomes and events, evaluating alternative courses of action, anticipating consequences and considering implementation issues and contingencies. Planning often begins with asking one or more questions, for example: What if ...? Could we ...? Do we ...? Is it possible...? How should we respond ...? How can we ...? Is it feasible to ...?

In general, planning is a proactive process that is intended to help individuals, groups and organizations achieve performance objectives.

Featured Glossary Term

Ethical Dilemna

A significant ethical conflict and dilemna exists when there are 1) significant value conflicts among differing interests, 2) presence of alternatives that are equality justifiable, and 3) significant consequences for "stakeholders" in the situation.

According to McNamara, ethical dilemmas faced by managers are often "highly complex with no clear guidelines, whether in law or often in religion." He lists the following examples:

  • "Our company prides itself on its merit-based pay system. One of my employees has done a tremendous job all year, so he deserves strong recognition. However, he's already paid at the top of the salary range for his job grade and our company has too many people in the grade above him, so we can't promote him. What should I do?"
  • "Our company prides itself on hiring minorities. One Asian candidate fully fits the job requirements for our open position. However, we're concerned that our customers won't understand his limited command of the English language. What should I do?"
  • "My top software designer suddenly refused to use our e-mail system. He explained to me that, as a Christian, he could not use a product built by a company that provided benefits to the partners of homosexual employees. He'd basically cut himself off from our team, creating a major obstacle to our product development. What should I do?"
  • "My boss told me that one of my employees is among several others to be laid off soon, and that I'm not to tell my employee yet or he might tell the whole organization which would soon be in an uproar. Meanwhile, I heard from my employee that he plans to buy braces for his daughter and a new carpet for his house. What should I do?"

  • Featured Planning Tip

    Shape situations

    A situation is the set of circumstances in which one finds oneself. A situation is the setting in which strategic decisions occur. We may be managing a dominant product company in a stable environment or a multibusiness firm in a turbulent financial environment. How we define and explain our situation influences our thinking about our strategic position. We can shape our situation by improving our understanding and taking subtle actions to create favorable circumstances.

    Shaping a situation means taking small actions that change as subtlely as possible circumstances or factors in a situation. For example, if the locations of customers have changed significantly, changing sales territories may be a small, subtle intervention with major favorable results. Taking this action following a resignation or retirement may be an easy, subtle strategic intervention to realign marketing efforts.

    Subtle actions are difficult to detect and yet may have major consequences.

    Military strategist John Boyd asks "What is the aim or purpose of strategy? To improve our ability to shape and adapt to unfolding circumstances, so that we (as individuals or as groups or as a culture or as a nation-state) can survive on our own terms." Boyd's key concept was that of the decision cycle or OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act), the process an individual or an organization uses to react to a situation or event. According to Boyd, the key to victory is to create situations where one can make appropriate decisions more quickly than one's opponent.

    Sun Tzu advises "If asked how to cope with a great host of the enemy in orderly array and on the point of marching to the attack, I should say: 'Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will.' Rapidity is the essence of war: take advantage of the enemy's unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attack unguarded spots."

    Sun Tzu

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    Copyright © 2004-12 by D. J. Power (see his home page). PlanningSkills.COMsm is maintained by Alexander P. and Daniel J. Power. Please contact them at with questions. See disclaimer and privacy statement. This page was last modified on Monday, July 30, 2012.