7400.362 - Family Life Management
School of Family and Consumer Sciences
Instructor: David D. Witt, Ph.D.
Topic 6 - Planning,
Life as we know it probably would not exist without planning.
In fact, think of your grandfather extolling: “Failing to plan is
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
What is Planning
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
less than objectively desired.
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
end state. Planning differs with person, situation and stage in life
Family plans, like personal ones, involve considerations of time,
personnel, cost and schedules.
The planning process and task - More complex than decision making,
involves a series of decisions and tasks; it is a process, implying
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"
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
"Bad money drives out good" such that "if two coins
same nominal value but are made from metals of unequal value, the
will tend to drive the outer out of circulation. Herbert Simon put it
when he observed that short term considerations absorb attention and
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
to making decisions for infants, then toddlers, that they have to
the importance of self-reliance and self-determination. However, it
seem that families today may be planning ahead more than ever before,
next year’s summer home before Thanksgiving, etc.” (Kronholz, 1997)
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
Planning is also affected by time-constraints, situational and
Situational Factors often shape wants, needs, and goals
- physical surroundings: location decor, lighting,
Studies in social psychology are convincing of the importance of the
and especially, of others’ behaviors on influencing our own behavior.
conditions motivate us to act, to search out alternatives, and to plan.
- social surroundings - friends or strangers, crowding
- time of day, month, year
- task – the reason
Personality Traits and Characteristics also shape our ability
by influencing assessment of the situation.
Personality may refer either to a broad range of traits, or to a
‘type’ of character and response.
For the discussion of planning, take the case of the personality
Introverts might process information about situations on their
extraverts might ask many opinions and seek out the help of experts.
theorists seem to be converging upon the idea that there is a set of
Five” personality traits that can be used to describe everyone
Expertise - the ability to perform task successfully, accurately, and
- increases as a person acquires more detailed knowledge based on
and remembers past solutions to problems. Thus, as we age, and if we
paying attention, we make fewer and fewer mistakes and are able to get
things done quicker.
- Neuroticism (emotional stability) - our plans are sometimes
based on general
- Extraversion - our plans are sometimes based on our desire
to show off
- Openness to Experience (a kind of measure of intelligence)
- our plans
are sometimes based on our willingness to try new ideas and take small
- 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.
Motivational factors - Motivated planning is thinking directed
a particular goal/objective.
Motivational Aspects of Planning are that the objective-seeker must:
-have an objective in mind that is
Maslow’s Motivational Theory - Our needs motivate our behavior,
needs lead to frustration & stress. Planning based on a realization
of our needs reduces frustration, increases hope, and lowers stress.
to Maslow, the average person satisfies about 85% of his/her
needs, 7% of security and safety needs, 50% of belongingness needs and
love, 40% of esteem needs, and 10% of self-actualization needs.
comes into play when you feel a need. Once the need is satisfied, you
to fulfill the next level need, and so on until you are
-must have persistence (‘staying power’ – no giving
Persistent planning, especially when
with one's spiritual, ethical or moral belief system, pays off.
-becomes discontented if objective isn't
Thus planners need to be motivated – they must want to succeed!
Standard setting - Standards are the quantitative or
that reconcile resources with demands and serve as measures of values
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
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
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
we are moved to do something about a situation. We then assess our
and decide what resources should be transfered to the solution. This
helps us make decisions in the future by clarifying our demands,
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
Attributes of plans
- 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
next. When possible, plans should include interdependency, which is the
necessary order of activities to move most efficiently toward a goal.
1. clear and concise – easy for everyone to
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
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
III. What is Implementing - Implementation involves putting
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
desired end state.
Factors influencing implementation (same as the ones for
To overcome these blocks, intelligent sizing up of the situation is
and Scanning (“reading the world” for clues or signals) is required.
elements of actuating, checking and controlling play into this, and are
- Personality (traits and characteristics)
- Motivational factors
- 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
Actuating - Actuating refers to putting plans into effect,
be done in stages. Feedback (positive and negative) is an important
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
factors. If a check shows that plans are not working out in a timely
or how you want it to, correction or control is needed. Too much
and controlling, however, can lead to pressure, frustration and slow
Achieving a balance between goals, wants and actions, by setting
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,
rules. Being a subjective judgment, an evaluation can turn out to be
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
· Storyboarding - This is a planning technique used by
movie screenwriters, etc. to show the consecutive steps that lead to