What’s your practice when you plan for the what’s next?  Are you reactive?  Inactive?  Or pre-active?  This is potentially a key insight about a reality of your planning DNA.  Clearly understanding your organization’s tendency is the first step in moving toward a healthier, more productive, planning perspective.

According to systems theorist Russell Ackoff there are three main perspectives in planning:

  • Reactive: focusing on the past.  This is a major challenge for organizations that have succeeded in the past.  After all, if it worked 30 years ago…why wouldn’t it work now?  This is also where "best practices" come in.  Think about it.  When you adopt a best practice you’re attempting to use a practice that was developed by someone else, often somewhere else, and it’s all about looking backward.
  • Inactive: staying focused on the present.  Often, too busy to even think about the future.  No time to really look at what might be next.  Only staying current with the inbox.  What’s the problem?  When you focus entirely on the present, and you’re not setting aside time to think and plan for what’s next, you’re setting yourself up to miss the next step in your puzzle.  While you’re keeping up with your own operation…the world is changing.
  • Pre-Active: "making an accurate prediction of the future, and then preparing for that future better than anyone else (p. 98)."   Both aspects are important.  Not just predicting the future.  You’ve also got to prepare for it.   If you don’t prepare as well, you run three risks: (1) The challenge of predicting the future, (2)  you simply act without preparing and then end up in a future you really didn’t want, or (3) you predict by simply extrapolating what’s going on now and instead of ending up where you’d like to go…you end up with "a more efficient past rather than a truly new future (p. 98)."

So, what’s your style?  Can you tell? 

Three Planning Perspectives
  • Great info…I would probably put myself in the Pre-Active…

  • The thing to watch for is the “preparing” part. Doing both mitigates the risk of poor prediction.