10 Reasons Why Plans Fail


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by Jayaram V

Many plans face the problem of failure. This essay is about ten important reasons why many plans fail during their implementation

A plan is an organized, orderly and focused effort or a program of action to achieve a specific end. Its success depends upon the planning process, which involves the creation of the plan according to the vision and the priorities of its creator. Planning requires a lot of discipline, practical thinking, attention to detail and possibility thinking. Planning is one part, and its execution is another. In this essay, we focus upon the steps in the planning process, and what can be done to make it effective.

Some people do not like to participate in any planning because they do not prefer to be bound by it or not lose their freedom to be spontaneous. It may not make much difference to those who just want to go with the flow and do not want to challenge themselves. However, if you are aiming for success in any field, you cannot ignore the importance of planning. Those who make use of plans to achieve specific goals have better chances of achieving success and fulfillment in their lives.

Why do plans fail?

Plans by themselves do not guarantee success. They need to be backed by focused effort. Even big organizations are not immune from problems and failures in the implementation of their plans. It often results in huge financial losses and loss of markets. According to one estimate, more than half of the projects initiated in the USA end up in failure, due to improper planning and poor execution. Plans may fail for many reasons. Some of them are listed below.

1. Unrealistic goals: Goals must be realistic, precise, measurable and achievable. Otherwise, they cannot be translated into actionable plans or achieved with certainty.

2. Frequent and unplanned changes to the original plan: The plan must be created in advance, before it is implemented. Frequent changes to the plans during the implementation phase will lead to many problems and resource constraints.

3. Unforeseen events: The plan must accommodate unforeseen events, catastrophes and contingencies, since no one can predict future. Without backup plans and alternative solutions, plans may fail.

4. Unexpected changes in the macro environment: It is difficult to predict the political, economic and legal changes that happen in the macro environment of a country or the world. They can often render the plans ineffective and useless.

5. Monetary and time constraints: The success of any plan depends upon the availability of time and money. The constraints of time and money are largely responsible for the failure of many plans, especially those which involve complex, time consuming tasks and big budgets.

6. Lack of expertise and skills: Many projects fail when organizations lose their skilled workers, or when they fail to recruit experts or skilled and knowledgeable people to perform specialized tasks.

7. Unrealistic expectations: Many times, organizations draw unrealistic plans and set unrealistic goals, with an aim to save time and money. They may also set unrealistic expectations from their employees during the implementation, resulting in confusion, loss of morale and other problems.

8. Improper planning: Sometimes, plans are hastily drawn, without properly identifying priority areas or setting the goals or establishing proper accountability. Sometimes, these problems are detected very late in the implementation phase, resulting in loss of money, time and effort.

9. Lack of control and discipline: Even the best of plans will fail if they are not properly implemented. Those who are tasked with the implementation of the plan have a greater responsibility upon their shoulders to make it successful. If they are not up to the mark, the plan will fail.

10. Group dynamics: Plans require group effort and the cooperation and contribution of many people. Plans can become derailed, if they do not work in harmony, if there are problems in communication or conflict resolution, or if there are leadership or motivational problems.

Planning requires adequate preparation, organized effort and careful execution. The information which goes into the planning is vital to its successful execution. If the information is faulty, the plan will fail. Planning also requires knowledge and expertise. When you plan for complex tasks or goals, you may need specialized knowledge and skills. The same is true when your plan has a broader scope and involves many people and processes.

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