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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES 04

0007-UNDERSTANDING PLANNING

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

Description and classification of plans

Conceptual issues in planning

 

OUTLINES:

BACKGROUND READING

Action planning or tactical planning

Relation between planning and control

Characteristics of effective plans

Classification of plans according to different criteria

Limitation of planning due to uncontrollable factors

Failure to plan

Objections to planning

Resistance to change

Bad reputation of centralized planning

Fear of commitment

Reliance on previous experience

Complexity of planning

Elements of strategy and planning

Forecasting & scenarios

Planning and trust in Allah

Over-planning

 

TEXT ANALYSIS

Resources: provisions for hijra

 

DISCUSSION

Organizational planning

 

BACKGROUND READING

INSTRUCTIONS: THE DISCUSSION LEADER OR THE MEMBERS (IN TURNS) WILL PRESENT THE MAIN POINTS IN THE BACKGROUND READING SECTIONS PRE-ASSIGNED THE PREVIOUS WEEK

Action planning or tactical planning: Action planning is laying down the detailed tactical or operational plans. Action planning is problem-solving for the future. Plans made today have an impact on the future. Action planning is charting how to get from a point in time today to a point in the future. Action planning is important because it is a basis for other management functions. Leading, controlling, and organizing are directly determined by the plan. Action planning is preparation for and commitment to the future. It fosters pro-active decision-making and problem-solving while eliminating impulsive urges. A plan facilitates communication within and outside the organization. A plan helps the integration and coordination of organizational activities. An action plan defines what an organization is because it details what it wants to achieve; you are what you do. Organizations with plans are trusted; they know what they want to do and where to go.

 

Relation between planning and control: Planning and control processes are closely linked and mutually influence one another. Control ensures that the plan is implemented well. The plan defines criteria for control. Control identifies deviations necessitating plan modification.

 

Characteristics of effective plans: Effective plans have 4 characteristics: specific, action-oriented, flexible, and consistent with organizational long-term goals and objectives. A plan must be specific and cover only a clearly demarcated and well-defined scope of work. The more specific the plan is the more effective it will be. General and vague plans can not be implemented easily and it is difficult to evaluate their impact at the end.  A plan must be an action-oriented and not a theoretical document. It must specify what actions need to be taken to achieve the desired objectives. A plan must be flexible so that there is room for creativity during the implementation. This is necessary to be able to deal with sudden or unexpected changes. A very rigid plan fails in implementation as soon as an obstacle is encountered. A plan can not be free-standing; it must be consistent with established organizational objectives. If the plan deviates from those objectives or even contradicts them it has little chance of success. If implemented without first formally changing the organizational objectives, the organization will lose its credibility among the general public.

 

Classification of plans according to different criteria: The following shows classification of plans according to different criteria: (a) Objective: strategic, tactical/operational (b) Duration: short, medium, long-term (c) Specificity: general, specific (d) Complexity: complex, simple (e) Methodology: top to bottom, bottom to top (f) Scope: comprehensive, narrow (g) Importance: major, minor  (h) Scale of measure: qualitative, quantitative  (I) Security class: confidential, public (j) Formality: formal, informal (k) Implementability: easy, difficult  (l) Flexibility: flexible, inflexible (m) Creativity: rational, intuitive, creative (n) Cost: expensive, cheap

 

Limitation of planning due to uncontrollable factors: While emphasizing the importance of plans and planning, you should be aware of the limitations. Whole countries, organizations and even individuals have collapsed because they planned and implemented plans without being aware of the limitations. There are many factors in the environment  that are beyond your control let alone your knowledge. Only Allah knows and controls everything. You must therefore take this into consideration by distinguishing environmental factors over which you have control and those over which you have little control. You can plan exactly for what you have control over. A lot of flexibility should be built into the plan when dealing with what you have no control over. 

 

Failure to plan: Failure to plan is common in organizations. It is quite surprising that a high proportion of organizations do not have formal plans for guiding their activities. Most things are decided on an ad hoc basis. All new issues are discussed from first principles in order to reach a decision there being no plan to act as a reference. It is therefore not surprising that many contradictions and wrong decisions are made. Many leaders and organizations are so eager to act that they proceed without first planning. They sometimes feel planning wastes time and delays action. They think of planning after making mistakes and meeting frustrations. Sometimes program failure is difficult to identify because there is no bench-mark plan against which to compare. Many organizations believe they have plans when they do not. They follow the leader's whims presented in the guise of secretly-concocted plans. Apparent contradictions are not explained on.  The excuse that information is secret is sometimes used to hide failures. Some organizational plans have no direct relevance to the methodology of work or the types of activity the organization should be engaged in. Failure to plan, whatever its reasons, will hurt the organization in several ways.

 

Objections to planning: Philosophical objections to planning the future prevent some people from planning. They misunderstand the concepts of QADAR and ILM AL GHAIB. They reason that since only Allah knows the future and since everything is in His hands, it is preposterous for the human being to plan the future. The truth of the matter is that planning does not contradict QADAR or assumes knowledge of the unseen. It is just a human effort to organize human affairs in a better way. Like all human efforts it has its limitations and could be mistaken. Planning is therefore accepted as long as the planner is aware of the limitations and after making his plans places trust in Allah the almighty.

 

Resistance to change: Resistance to change in large well established organizations and bureaucracies is the underlying reason to oppose planning. People want to continue business as usual. Planning is objected to because it may be a catalyst for asking fundamental questions about the operation of the organization and thus lead to changes.

 

Bad reputation of centralized planning: Failure to see planning as rational and creative is a reason for many people avoiding planning. This is because of the bad reputation that centralized government planning has acquired in the past. Incompetent bureaucratic planners who have no touch with reality, possess no understanding of the real problems, and who had no visions to guide them have produced monstrous plans that caused havoc and waste.

 

Fear of commitment: Fear of commitment to plans once made is a major reason for leaders to refuse to plan. Once a plan is made and is known, there is benchmark against which their performance will be measured within a given time frame. Accepting a plan implies being committed to a certain course of action. They want to retain their freedom to do what they want, when and how they wish. Unclear goals and objectives make it virtually impossible to produce any plans. A plan is in essence a restatement of goals and objectives and practical measures for achieving them.

 

Reliance on previous experience: Excessive reliance on experience and failure to appreciate the need for fresh approaches and outlooks makes many long-standing leaders reject planning. Previous experience is good and should be used but there is a need for analysis of the situation and planning for the future. The future can not be the same as the past. It is a mistake to use yesterday’s solution for tomorrow without any modifications. 

 

Complexity of planning: Fear of planning as a difficult and complex process better left to experts results in organizations not planning if they do not have experts in planning. Planning is a difficult intellectual exercise that many people are reluctant to undertake. The basics of planning are easy to grasp and a non-expert can make a fairly good plan. Ignorance of the methodology of planning rather than making organizations seek to acquire the necessary technics and skills, sometimes makes them recoil away from the process. Planning takes time, effort and money. Sometimes a small project or organization may feel that they can not afford the expense of planning and that it is easier for them to proceed with action. You should always think also in terms of the cost of not planning. Misplaced priorities, failed projects, costly mistakes, and repetition of the work are costly and may be more expensive than the cost of planning. Individual resistance to planning may turn into systematic organizational resistance. There are individuals or groups of individuals within the organization who will resist the plan. This may be on valid and rational considerations or it may be just the disinclination to accept the  systematic work that planning institutes, reluctance to change old and tried ways of working, or personal animosity to those formulating and executing the plans.

 

Elements of strategy and planning: The following are the main elements in strategy and planning that are discussed in subsequent sections of this chapter: Vision, Mission, Goals, Objectives, Intentions (niyyat), Sincerity. Vision is a broad general direction. Vision is very important. There can be no strategy in absence of a guiding vision. Human experience down the ages shows that there is always a direct association between what you envision and what you achieve. Vision is non-specific. It is at the conceptual and emotional levels. It defines the general direction for the organization. Vision is the visualization of what you want the organization to be at some point in the future. The more graphic the description, the more effective. Mission is line of work and how to proceed with it. Goals are a broad definition of the mission. Objectives are exact specific definitions of goals. Intention (niyyat) is internal more spiritual than conceptual. Intentions and objectives must be sincere for success

 

Forecasting & scenarios: This is the ability to predict the future. The better the forecasting the better the planning. Forecasting depends on available information, study of current trends and a deep understanding of the people and institutions that you are working with. Forecasting does not assume 'ilm al ghaib. It is based on what is known at the moment. When forecasting you must know the human limitations and appreciate that you could be wide off the mark. These are various possibilities envisaged for the future. Scenario description must be as detailed as possible.

 

Planning and trust in Allah: When planning never forget that the ultimate aim is the pleasure of Allah. Goals, targets achieved without achieving the higher purpose of the pleasure of Allah are not worth much. You have to exert your best human effort in planning then entrust your affairs to Allah. The best of plans with very good execution can fail. Trust in Allah without planning and effort if TAWAAKUL and differs from TAWAKKUL which is effort followed by trust in Allah. Planning can not substitute for trust in Allah. He ultimately has final control over our destinies however much we plan. The trust we talk about is that which follows planning and taking all the humanly possible measures for success and then leaving it to the Lord. Blind trust without making any effort is not trust but failure and true religion can not countenance it.

 

Overplanning: A final word about how much planning should be done. Too much planning could stifle creativity and growth as happened in centralized totalitarian societies.

 

 

TEXT ANALYSIS

INSTRUCTIONS: READ OUT EACH TEXT ALOUD TWO TIMES. MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE MAIN POINTS RAISED. WRITE DOWN THE MAIN LESSON(S) YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM THE TEXT.

 

Resources: provisions for hijra: "Narrated Asma: I prepared the journey food for Allah's Apostle ( may peace be upon him ) in Abu Bakr's house when he intended to emigrate to Medina. I could not find anything to tie the food container and the water skin with. So, I said, to Abu Bakr, " By Allah, I do not find anything to tie ( these things ) with except my waist belt." He said, " Cut it into two pieces and tie the water skin with one piece and the food container with the other ( the subnarrator added, " She did accordingly and that was the reason for calling her dhat un nitaqain ( i.e. two belted woman).  Bukhari 4:141, Hadith #222

 

DISCUSSION

 

ORGANIZATIONAL PLANNING

Think of one organization that you know well and answer the following questions regarding the educational field:

 

(a) Does it have a strategic plan?

 

(b) Does it have action plans?

 

(c) Who plans for the organization?

 

(d) How is the follow-up of plans?

 ęCopyright Professor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. 2000