7400.362 - Family Life Management
School of Family and Consumer Sciences
Instructor: David D. Witt, Ph.D.
Topic 6 - Planning, Implementing and Evaluating

Life as we know it probably would not exist without planning. In fact, think of your grandfather extolling: “Failing to plan is planning to fail!” -or-
The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step - Lao Tzu . Serious planning is an essential aspect of resource management, and more so today, as the world’s growing population is straining its resources to survive.

What is Planning
A Plan is a detailed schema, program, strategy or method worked out in advance of action, for the accomplishment of a desired end result (a goal). It starts with mentally organizing activities to accomplish a desired end state. Planning differs with person, situation and stage in life cycle. Family plans, like personal ones, involve considerations of time, energy, personnel, cost and schedules. The planning process and task - More complex than decision making, planning involves a series of decisions and tasks; it is a process, implying change from step to step -information gathering - sorting through options - prioritizing resources - making multiple plans and choosing a course of action most likely to succeed. Need fulfillment occurs in objective steps as outlined in Goldsmith's book"

Additionally, Foxall, Goldsmith and Brown, (1998) assert the more subjective side of need fulfillment:
The idea here is that, while objective in our intentions, we shouldn't forget that sometimes we want (have "felt needs" for) things that is somewhat less than objectively desired.

Time, stress and planning
People have become so caught up in everyday activities that they do not have time or energy for planning, which leads into Gresham’s Law of Planning:

"Bad money drives out good" such that "if two coins have the same nominal value but are made from metals of unequal value, the cheaper will tend to drive the outer out of circulation. Herbert Simon put it well when he observed that short term considerations absorb attention and energy at the cost of long-term considerations. This happens when we ‘miss the forest for the trees’!
Families easily fall prey to this danger - the more immediate concerns of family life can become habitual to the extent that we forget why we do some of the things we do.  For example, parents become so accustomed to making decisions for infants, then toddlers, that they have to relearn the importance of self-reliance and self-determination. However, it does seem that families today may be planning ahead more than ever before, “renting next year’s summer home before Thanksgiving, etc.” (Kronholz, 1997) since many of them are competing for the same activities. Always ask "Why am I doing this?" - "What's my motivation?"

Paradox of Planning
While plans aren't sexy (they can be - by the way) they are reliable if maintained.  Planning removes spontaneity but adds security. The paradox of planning is that it can create stress (recognizing a problem in need of a solution is stressful), and also relieve stress (finding a solution and living with it). Over-planning can box in the planners so that there is little room for alternative in-the-moment thinking. Thus, stress can come from having rigid plans, too-high commitment towards plans such that new alternatives or opportunities cannot be taken advantage of.
Planning is also affected by time-constraints, situational and personality factors.

Situational Factors often shape wants, needs, and goals

- physical surroundings: location decor, lighting, cleanliness, temperature
- social surroundings - friends or strangers, crowding
- time of day, month, year
- task – the reason
Studies in social psychology are convincing of the importance of the situation and especially, of others’ behaviors on influencing our own behavior. These conditions motivate us to act, to search out alternatives, and to plan.

Personality Traits and Characteristics also shape our ability to plan, by influencing assessment of the situation.
Personality may refer either to a broad range of traits, or to a certain ‘type’ of character and response.
For the discussion of planning, take the case of the personality type/trait “Extraversion-Introversion”.

Introverts might process information about situations on their own while extraverts might ask many opinions and seek out the help of experts. Personality theorists seem to be converging upon the idea that there is a set of “Big Five” personality traits that can be used to describe everyone

  • Neuroticism (emotional stability) - our plans are sometimes based on general fears.
  • Extraversion - our plans are sometimes based on our desire to show off a little.
  • Openness to Experience (a kind of measure of intelligence) - our plans are sometimes based on our willingness to try new ideas and take small risks.
  • Agreeableness (“niceness”) - we sometimes agree to plans because we are "nice" people and don't want to hurt someone else's feelings.
  • Conscientiousness (dependability) - we often try to plan so that our reliability and integrity remains in tact.
Expertise - the ability to perform task successfully, accurately, and dependably - increases as a person acquires more detailed knowledge based on experience, and remembers past solutions to problems. Thus, as we age, and if we are paying attention, we make fewer and fewer mistakes and are able to get things done quicker.

Motivational factors - Motivated planning is thinking directed towards a particular goal/objective.
Motivational Aspects of Planning are that the objective-seeker must:

    -have an objective in mind that is attractive or desired
    -must have persistence (‘staying power’ – no giving up). 
      Persistent planning, especially when coupled with one's spiritual, ethical or moral belief system, pays off.
    -becomes discontented if objective isn't accomplished.
Maslow’s Motivational Theory - Our needs motivate our behavior, unsatisfied needs lead to frustration & stress. Planning based on a realization of our needs reduces frustration, increases hope, and lowers stress. According to Maslow, the average person satisfies about 85% of his/her physiological needs, 7% of security and safety needs, 50% of belongingness needs and love, 40% of esteem needs, and 10% of self-actualization needs. Planning comes into play when you feel a need. Once the need is satisfied, you plan to fulfill the next level need, and so on until you are ‘self-actualized’ (you wish!).
Thus planners need to be motivated – they must want to succeed!

Standard setting - Standards are the quantitative or qualitative criteria that reconcile resources with demands and serve as measures of values and goals. Measurement is a big deal. In planning, standards provide criteria for action. In families, standards come from family values and goals, which develop over time as the family grows and develops.  From young couple to aging couple status, the family adjusts standards to meet their needs, in their particular stage of life, and according to their resources.

Know that our standards evolve and change over our lives. As we grow and have experiences, we begin to understand how the way we behave and what we want out of life has to be consistent with our standards for living. Criteria for action just means the point at which, according to our standards, we are moved to do something about a situation. We then assess our resources and decide what resources should be transfered to the solution. This process helps us make decisions in the future by clarifying our demands, decisions, plans and actions.
  • Scheduling - is the specification of "time bounded projected activities" which allow for goal (set) achievement. E.g. Plans with deadlines, like timetables. It involves sequencing.
  • Sequencing - is the ordering of activities, events, & resources necessary to achieve goals.  Sequencing is a part of Scheduling such as a things-to-do list (sequencing) and a timetable (schedule) for getting each thing done.

Types of Tasks – not always easily differentiated

  • Independent – Scheduling might involve independent activities (one thing at a time),
  • Dovetailing – more than one activity at a time
  • Overlapping – finishing one activity as another is started
  • Interdependent – when one activity must be completed before starting the next. When possible, plans should include interdependency, which is the necessary order of activities to move most efficiently toward a goal.
Attributes of plans
1. clear and concise – easy for everyone to understand
2. flexible – able to change if conditions change unexpectedly
3. adaptive – being able to adjust
4. realistic – feasible and likely to work
5. appropriate – suited to the situation and the people involved.
6. goal-directed – specific, challenging goals lead to higher task performance than vague ‘do your best’ kind of goals.

Types of plans
Categorized by time: Short-term versus Long-term
Party dependent: Individuals, households, organizations, communities or nations.

1. Directional Strategy- progress occurs along a linear path to long term goal fulfillment (career planning is an example).
2. Contingency Strategy - used as back-up or secondary plans in the case of original plan failure. (e.g. applying to more than one  place at a time for a job).
3. Strategic - includes both a proactive search for new opportunities and a reactive solution to existing problems. It focuses attention on the initial stages of the decision making process (choice of action strategies).

Proactive versus Reactive
Proactive behavior involves taking responsibility for one's own life. Proactive management involves change oriented planning where the desired change is conceived of by a person or family - the implementation of that change alters the environment. As Stephen Covey, author of “Seven habits of highly effective people” put it, our behavior is a function of our decisions not our conditions. A proactive approach is reflected in one’s language “There's always another alternative!” and “I choose..” instead of “I cannot” and “If Only..”, which are phrases that characterize reactive people. Reactive behavior occurs when people are overly affected by forces outside themselves, like the weather, or others’ attitudes. Effective managers tend to be proactive and goal-oriented, and are thus prepared for events to come, rather than following the management-by-crisis model.

III. What is Implementing - Implementation involves putting plans and procedures into action, and controlling the action. Once plans are put into action, they need to be checked to see that they are leading to the desired end state.

Factors influencing implementation (same as the ones for planning):

- Situations
- Personality (traits and characteristics)
- Motivational factors
· Blocks
- Other people – not everyone will be "believers" and drag their feet.
- Cost and other restrictions
- Competition – other plans may be better.
- Crises – resources may be required urgently, so implementing other plans may have to wait
- Procrastination/lack of motivation
- Close-mindedness
To overcome these blocks, intelligent sizing up of the situation is required, and Scanning (“reading the world” for clues or signals) is required. The elements of actuating, checking and controlling play into this, and are discussed next.

Actuating - Actuating refers to putting plans into effect, which can be done in stages. Feedback (positive and negative) is an important mode of evaluating progress, and can influence future actuating.
 
Checking and controlling - Checking means determining if actions are in compliance with standards and sequences, including situational and personal factors. If a check shows that plans are not working out in a timely manner, or how you want it to, correction or control is needed. Too much checking and controlling, however, can lead to pressure, frustration and slow progress. Achieving a balance between goals, wants and actions, by setting milestones and checking at those times, can help plans to be met.

IV. What is Evaluating
Evaluation is the process of judging or examining the cost, value or worth of a plan or decision, based on criteria such as standards, and rules. Being a subjective judgment, an evaluation can turn out to be biased or flawed. Are all goals being met? Requires tracking the good and bad aspects of the implementation.

Assessment involves these aspects:
    1. gathering information about results
    2. comparison with past results
    3. open discussion about the meaning of these results, how they were gathered, implications for future steps · Storyboarding - This is a planning technique used by advertisers, movie screenwriters, etc. to show the consecutive steps that lead to desired outcomes.

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