Planning is a decision making activity requiring, the process of ascertaining objectives” and deciding on activities to attain these objectives. In planning, managers assess the future, determine the goals of the organization and develop the overall strategies to achieve these goals. The extent and complexity of planning would depend upon the complexity and multiplicity of objectives. Consider, for example, the planning undertaken by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) held in Atlanta, Georgia in 1996, While the planning process started more than five years before the due games, consider the challenging task faced by ACOG in 1993, as reported by Business Week.
“With three years and three months left, facilities costing more than 500 million dollars including the Olympic Stadium- are still mere blueprints. Raising the estimated $ 1.57 billion needed to stage the fourth summer Olympiad on U.S. soil will require big bucks from corporate sponsors, licensing agreements, tickets and most important, broadcast rights.” Similarly staging the Asia Olympics in New Delhi is 1982 required extensive planning for years before the games, in building the stadium, new roadways, flyovers and residential Asiad Village for participating athletes from all over the world. Without proper and detailed planning, success for such colossal events cannot be assured. Planning is particularly important because of scarce resources and uncertain environment with a fierce competition for these resources.
The basic purpose of planning is to reduce the risk of uncertainties and to initiate a coordinated effort within the organization for the purpose of organizational success. It also involves the process of preparing for change and the dynamics of the environment. As such the planning function has three characteristics. First, planning is anticipatory in nature. This means that a decision has to be made now as to what to do and how, before it is actually done. Second, planning is a system of decisions.
It involves a process of making decisions which will define as to what is to be achieved in the future and the formation of action plans for achievement of goals. Third, planning is focussed on desired future results. It is a means of ensuring that the important organizational objectives are accomplished as and when desired.