Often used interchangeably, comprehensive planning and strategic planning have some clear differences and similarities. To begin with, comprehensive planning describes the process which determines the aspirations, as well as goals of a particular community in regards to its development. On the other hand, strategic planning is the organization’s process used in defining its direction, strategy, in addition to, making some decisions on resource allocations so as to pursue such strategy.The outcomes of the comprehensive planning is a comprehensive plan that dictates the public policy in regards to the projects varying from transportation, land use utilities, housing and recreation. On the other hand, the outcome of the strategic planning is a strategic plan that is utilized in communicating with an organization, the organizational goals, actions required to attain such goals, as well as all the other crucial elements that are developed in a planning exercise.
The basis for a comprehensive planning emanates from a government’s capability of protecting the welfare and health of its people. The power that the local government has in planning basically comes from the state planning laws, though the local government in a, large number of countries is not needed by the law to be engaged in the comprehensive planning. Also, the statutes of states normally provide a legal framework suitable for the communities that chooses to take part whilst permitting the others to unfasten themselves with a process. In contrast, the basis for strategic planning emanates from the organizations and institution’s aptitude of safeguarding the interest of all its stakeholders. In essence, the policy of the organization determines the nature of the strategic planning, as they are more likely to be in line with the needs and requirements of the stakeholders.
A comprehensive plan basically encompasses a larger geographical area, broader range of topics, in addition to covering longer term time horizon. In contrast, strategic planning is the organizational management activity which is utilized in setting priorities, focus resources and energy, reinforce operations, make sure that the workers and the other stakeholders works towards a common goal, establish some agreement around the intended results or outcomes and then adjust and assess the direction of an organization in response to the changing environment. As such, whilst strategic planning deals with the organizations, comprehensive planning deals with a wider geographical area such as an entire community.
However, both comprehensive planning and strategic planning have a similarity in the sense that they are all management tools that helps the people concerned, either in the organization of a community to direct their resources and focus on achieving a particular desired goal. Moreover, planning in both strategic and comprehensive perspective involves deciding and foreseeing the actions of today which lead people in various areas to their desired future.
Both strategic planning and comprehensive planning are adopted when a particular problem arises that requires solving in a more involving and well thought approach. In this light, a process is either a strategic or comprehensive if it involves preparation of the best manner of responding to the circumstances of a community or organization’s environment, regardless of whether the circumstance is known in advance.
There are a number of barriers to public sector planning. Under-planning is one of the most significant barriers. Most of the times some of the crucial elements in the planning part are frequently disregarded thereby interfering with proper planning. Yet, over-planning also poses as another barrier, particularly where the people involved in the process are too inflexible and also by being way too concerned with the details. Similarly, getting too involved emotionally is a major barrier to public sector planning. Once the managers are emotionally involved in planning they have a tendency of resisting changes that occurs in it. Furthermore, attempting to do too much in the public sector planning can be catastrophic. It is only natural that a person cannot be in a position of solving all the problems at once. As such, when a planner tries to do too much, there is a likelihood of a person trying to solve the problems which are not important to the success of a project.
Expecting the status quo to continue is a barrier to public sector planning. This occurs when the managers are not adequately prepared to deal with different circumstances. Underestimating the significance of the organization structure is also another barrier. Once there is no managerial control and organization built in support of a particular program, the likelihood of failure is amplified. Besides, ignoring the unintended consequences obstructs planning in the public sector. There is a clear disjunction between the purposes and intention of the public administrator and outcomes of the public policy. The last barrier is discounting leadership. The entrepreneurial spirit of a manager may lead to the success of a particular project, and failure to incorporate this leadership and entrepreneurship skills could stand in the way of success of a public project.
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