The Planning Process
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The Planning Process. Plans May Be Worthless, But Planning Is Essential! ~Moltke’s Dictum. 24. Planners. Collective planning is always better than individual planning except when speed is more important than precision. Reduces the impact of personal prejudices

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Plans may be worthless but planning is essential moltke s dictum

Plans May Be Worthless, But Planning Is Essential!~Moltke’s Dictum



Collective planning is always better than individual planning except when speed is more important than precision.

Reduces the impact of personal prejudices

Enhances perception and increases possibilities

Results in a more accurate assessment of risk

When speed is critical, consider planning teams

Each team is responsible for a specific function, geographical area (venue), or component


The process
The Process

Planning is the art and science of envisioning a desired future and laying out effective ways of bringing it about

Begins from the end!

What is it that we want to achieve?

Commander may delegate authority, but not responsibility


Situation assessment
Situation Assessment

Attempts to identify the various elements and dynamics at play, especially those that may influence a favorable outcome

Ultimate objective may be implicit, but effective methods are dependent upon present circumstances

Missions, tasks, and assignments will be competing and require prioritization

Will require two distinctively different but interrelated approaches

Analysis and Synthesis



Analysis—Breaking a problem into its component parts

SWOT Techniques

Strengths and Weaknesses are inward looking

Opportunities and Threats are outward looking




Synthesis—Integrating the various components into a cohesive whole

Estimate the impact of various dynamics and identify intermediate objectives

Put the right parts in the right order

Two Critical Factors are Center of Gravity and Critical Vulnerabilities



Center of gravity

Something which is required for success

May be tangible, such as a structure or hostages

May be intangible, such as perceived air of legitimacy

Center of Gravity


Critical vulnerabilities
Critical Vulnerabilities

Weaknesses, that if exploited, will create failure

May be tangible, such as lack of weapons or ammunition

May be intangible such as ability to sustain or continually resist


Concept of operations
Concept of Operations

Always involves a number of missions

Each mission involves a number of tasks


Refers to a series of actions designed to progressively promote the accomplishment of strategic objectives


Focus of Effort—The predominate activity or assignment that must be accomplished to achieve a successful resolution

Answers the question, “What is to be done?”

Main Effort—The agency, unit or component assigned as the primary means to accomplish the activity defined as the focus of effort

Answers the question, “Who is to do it?”

Provides subordinates an ability to coordinate and work together without overwhelming a commander with nonessential details.


Mission analysis
Mission Analysis

Methods must conform to commander’s guidance and limitations

Specified and Implied Tasks

Mission Tasking

Constraints and Restraints


Specified and Implied Tasks


  • Specified Tasks—those tasks that are fully and clearly expressed, leaving no room for doubt or uncertainty

    • Fully developed concept of operations will identify those tasks that need to be accomplished to achieve the overall objectives

    • Responsibility of commanders

  • Implied Tasks—those tasks that are implicitly derived from the commander’s intent

    • Derived from the commander’s intent, hence specified tasks may not be necessary to achieve the intent of the commander

    • Responsibility of subordinates

Mission tasking
Mission Tasking

The “glue” that binds the concept of operations and the missions together

Comprised of two parts—What to do and Why it is necessary

Especially critical in fast-moving situations that do not readily conform to detailed plans and expectations


A method of issuing orders and supervision that requires a commander to tell a subordinate what to do and why it needs to be done, but not how to do it.

Constraints and Restraints


  • Constraints—Things you must do

    • May be imposed by law or department policy

    • Some will be unique to the present situation and be imposed by the planner or higher authority

      • Examples include requirements to have fire department present before employing burning tear gas, or have ambulance present at command post, or requiring the use of safety goggles by entry personnel

Constraints and Restraints


  • Restraints—Things you must not do

    • May be imposed by law or department policy

    • Some will be unique to the present situation and be imposed by the planner or higher authority

      • Examples include sectors of fire, leaving a containment position until relieved, or prevention of traffic or pedestrians from entering a perimeter

Simplifying the process
Simplifying the Process

Standing Operating Procedures (SOP)

A set of routine procedures that prescribe an accepted practice for completing some activity or function

Usually, but not always, written


Simplifying the process1
Simplifying the Process

Memorandums of Understanding (Memorandums of Agreement)

Set for the major points of agreement between:

Two or more units within an organization

Two or more agencies

MOUs and MOAs are always written

Both SOPs and MOUs allow comprehensive plans without detailed instructions


Simplifying the Process


Without SOPs and MOUs, you must specify all critical activities because you can not assume everyone will do things the same way!

Branches sequels
Branches & Sequels

Branches identify courses of action that may be necessary depending on changing circumstances

Branches answer questions of “What if?”

Sequels refer to actions that follow other actions

Sequels answer questions of “What next?”








Coupling is a relative term used to describe how two or more components in a plan interact

Often are located in junctures, where plans are most fragile and damage is most likely to occur

Couplings link components (branches and sequels) in a plan

Briefings to Convoys to Staging to Objective to Withdrawal

One of the most critical aspects of the planning process and one of the most often overlooked

Couplings come in two types, Tight and Loose

Effective plans will require both


Tightly coupled plans
Tightly Coupled Plans

Used when plans require close coordination or have time or event dependent processes

Useful when incorporating resources not entirely controlled by Incident Commander

Resources encumbered by “windows of availability” or effectiveness

Example, helicopters are limited by pilot rest, weather conditions, or commitment to other operations

Tightly coupled plans aremore efficient but easilydamaged and difficult to repair


Loosely coupled plans
Loosely Coupled Plans

Used when plans require more flexibility and/orfriction is expected

Useful when objectiveshave multiple approaches

Resources are in “general support” and available for employment whenever called for

Loosely coupled plans are more effective and not easily damaged nor difficult to repair, but less efficient than tightly coupled plans


Planning time is never limitless

“2/3 Rule” states that 2/3 of available time belongs to subordinates

Does not matter if allotted time is months, weeks, days, or hours

Makes planning participatory and enhances troubleshooting

Allows subordinates time for preparation and implementation









Time for Planning