Planning is an important aspect of life

Planning is an important aspect of life, without it, things would be meaningless and we wouldn’t be where we are today. We often think ahead of what we are going to do and how best to get where we want to be in future. We are guided by planning in our everyday life. Planning is one of the managerial functions. It is very broad word which is broken down into different sections as to be discussed in this assignment.

Planning in educational terms, defines where the school wants to be in future and how to get there {Parker, 2011}. Planning is the primary function or starting point of management and occupies the first position in the management process. Management has to plan for long and short range future direction by looking ahead into the future. It involves determination of a course of action to achieve desired results/objectives. Every other function depends on planning like organizing, leading and controlling. You can’t lead, control or organise what you haven’t planned. According to Koontz and O’Donnell, “planning is deciding in advance what to do, how and when to do it and who is to do it”. Objectives, targets and strategies are set up through planning. Whenever we plan, we should always consider time as an important aspect. How long will it take to achieve the desired goals, will the goals be achieved before the set time frame? Planning plays a vital role in education as it helps to foresee the future problems. It is taken as the foundation for future activities. It is said that “well plan is half done” meaning if you plan carefully, your plan is half done because you already know how to go about everything.

The nature of planning is understood by looking at the four major aspects. Firstly, the primacy of planning: By now we all know that planning is the root managerial function. Therefore, it comes first before execution of all other functions as it involves setting up goals necessary for the other functions to perform. Secondly, its contribution to objectives: planning is guided by what you want to achieve which we call objectives. Once you set your objectives, then you begin to thinking and deciding the methods, procedures and steps to be taken to achieve a set of objectives. If the chosen methods are not helping in yielding or reaching the targets, then the administrator/manager has to plan or think of other ways to achieve the targets. Every plan and its support should contribute to the achievement of the organization’s purpose and objectives. Thirdly, Pervasiveness of planning: Planning is a unique function required to be done by all managers. The character and scope of planning may vary with each school’s management but all managers have the same function of planning. For example, because of the position of being a principal, the principal might plan more than an H.O.D, whereas at another school, despite being the principal, the H.O.D is the one who does more planning. Planning is for everyone. According to Heinrich and Koontz, “all managers, from presidents to first-level supervisors – plan”. Lastly, the efficiency of plans: plans should not only be effective but also efficient. The effectiveness of a plan relates to the extent to which objectives are accomplished.
One may ask as to why we plan, well, According to G.R. Terry, “planning is the foundation of most successful actions of all enterprises.” .Therefore, managers’ plan because a planning provides direction: Direction means to give proper information, accurate instructions and useful guidance to employees/teachers in this case. Staff members/ employees know in advance in which direction they have to work. If there was no planning, employees would work in different directions. b It also reduces overlapping and wasteful activities, meaning managers are able to decide when, where, how, and by whom activities are to be taken or done. It helps focus on important rather than on wasteful activities. This reminds me of how some things are done at our school. The teachers are hostel supervisors since it is an informal hostel, the management drafted a supervision time-table. So we all know when we are on duty. If there was no proper planning done, every teacher would be at the hostel trying to supervise which would be a waste of time. When others are on duty, other teachers are at least free and able to focus on things such as lesson planning and creating teaching aids. c Innovative ideas are also promoted, in a way that many new ideas come to the mind of a manager when he is planning. Planning requires high thinking and it is an intellectual process. This creates an innovative and foresighted attitude among the managers. They think of the best actions to be taken. d It helps in decision making: A manager is surrounded by a number of alternatives; once the plan has been set out; the manager decides which course of action will be the best depending on the requirements and resources available at the school. Therefore, a decision has to be made.

Planning, like any other function, has its advantages which are as follows. a It helps the school management in laying specific objectives or goals for the staff members. There is no confusion about the roles and responsibilities among the staff as everybody has an idea about what is expected from them. For example, I am the storeroom keeper at our school, the Mathematics teacher is responsible for the library, such planning helps to reduce confusion as I know what I am supposed to do. I won’t cross the line by being in charge of the library and storeroom at the same time. Everyone sticks to what he/she is assigned to do. This also makes us better at doing our jobs and maintaining our respective offices storeroom and library. More experience with the storeroom and library reduces the risk and chances of theft and untidiness as one person is in charge of either the storeroom or library. b Planning also facilitates the efficient use of resources. For example, the principal needs to know the exact number of learners enrolled at the school, this will help in determining the number of exercise books to be bought. If the principal doesn’t know then we might end up buying more books than we need and that will be a waste of resources. Another example is that learners always use two bags of maize meal when they cook, and they use two pots because the management knows the number of learners who are in the hostel, if they were less then we could just use one pot instead of two. c It also enables the managers to identify the strength and weakness of the school. Mangers are able to sit down and look at the past experiences and work on them to predict the future and set future objectives. Looking back to at the past plans, helps managers to know what was accomplished and what was not and how to achieve the goals that were not achieved previously. This helps them know the schools strength and weaknesses.
d Planning also saves time. Instead of going through the planning process over and over again, one just has to plan once and then work on set objectives. e Planning further enables management to focus on the future hence aware of environmental changes: For example, at our school since we do not have running water from a tap, during the rainy season, the ministry of works always fill up our tanks with water since there is not much sun to pump water from the solar panel or we collect water from the nearby dams and by putting buckets outside for rain water to fall in, we use this water for cooking, bathing, washing and many more. When there is no rain, we use the solar panel at the borehole, when the sun comes up, water will be pumped to our tanks at school. Managers are aware of environmental changes and that is why we are not lacking water at our school because future plans were already set. f Performance will also increase because objectives were set, communicated and are simply being practised. Effective planning and implementation play a greater role in high performance. g it facilitates control: planning and controlling work together as they are inseparable in the sense that managers cannot control what they did not plan for, therefore, plans have to be set in order for controlling to take place. Controlling focuses on what has been planned. So, no planning means no controlling.

Although planning is the primary function of management, it has many limitations or disadvantages. Here are some of the disadvantages. a It reduces creativity and innovation because it does not allow staff members to come up with their own ideas as the plan was already set and decided, and actions or strategies to achieve them have also been set. Meaning staff members will just execute the plans without objecting or adding more ideas. Even if the ideas were fruitful, they would just go to waste as they won’t be communicated. Individuals’ freedom is restricted as it strictly adheres to pre-determined-policies and objectives. b The other disadvantage is that, planning may not be fruitful. Not everything we plan for actually works out. The management might have laid objectives to be set incorrectly or might have chosen the wrong course of action to achieve the goals in the end. The plan might not be success. c Planning is time-consuming as it requires critical analysis of objectives and actions to achieve them. d People’s resistance: resistance to change hinders planning. Managers are often frustrated in instituting new plans, because of the inability of people to accept them.
Here is a very good example, our school management came together and decided that the Pre-primary learners should start coming to school in the afternoon not in the morning. The idea behind the change of plan was that the grade 4 learners were a lot, thus they needed another class so that they can divide them into two classes to avoid an overcrowded class. Which was understandable but the pre-primary teacher did not want to understand it because she had her own reasons, saying that since the pre-primary learners are still very young, by the time they knock off at 4pm, it would be a bit late as some had to walk long distances to go back home and most of these learners have elder siblings who attend classes in the morning session. Her argument was based on the fact that the learners will have to walk home without guidance from their elder siblings and that they may play or fight on their way and reach home very late and something might happen to them on their way since they will no longer be walking home with their elder siblings. So when you look at both sides, everything is understandable. This is just to give a clear insight of how people may react to change. Some may accept and some may not. The pre-primary accepted the change after a long argument and you can just imagine how frustrating this was for the management.
There are a number of characters which are characterized by planning. a planning is mental activity; it requires adequate time and energy. It is not a simple process as managers have to think critically and foresee things. b It is futuristic/forward looking: planning always means looking ahead. Planning is never done for the past. Administrators try to make predictions and assumptions about the future. c Planning is continuous: meaning it is an on-going process that never ends. Managers may take a break from planning but cannot run away from it as they will have to plan again and again, if they set strategies suggested do not work out then new plans and strategies have to be reset. d It is also goal-oriented as every plan specifies the goals to be achieved in the future and the steps necessary to achieve them. A manager cannot do any planning if the goals are not yet known. Goals need to be known in order to be planned for. e Planning is flexible: plans should be flexible in a way that they can be adjusted or changed in order of accordance with the needs and requirements of the situations.
Planning requires a few features or requirements such as clear objectives: meaning they should be concise, simple, clear and accurate. A good plan must also be understood by the people who will execute the plans. How can you do something that you do not understand? It is the same as being a teacher. You cannot give a classwork if learners did not understand anything. Yes, you can but let us be honest; the results won’t be as good as they should have been if the learners understood the topic. Same applies to the managers, employees or staff members need to know and understand what is expected from them and they will work towards achieving the specific goals. This will also reduce the number of mistakes or errors in the organization. An understandable plan is as good as an executed one.
In conclusion, I would say that planning is something that we do in everyday life. Planning being the primary function just tells us how important it is. We cannot carry out other functions without the planning function. Despite its limitations, planning is the key root and road to success. Once your plans have been set out clearly, implementing and executing them will not be much of a problem because you already know how to go about everything. Which action or strategy is to be used to achieve which goal? An effective plan lays a proper foundation for other functions to be well executed. Good plans lead to growth or expansion. As schools will do better than they did before.