The most common response to “Why do plans fail or end unimplemented?” is a lack of some resource. Usually we hear one or more of the Big Five Lacks: Money, Time, Personnel, Information, or Political Will.
But PUP was born with the initial observation that the true reasons are deeper than lacks. If you suffer a lack, you still need to ask why several times to get to a clear picture. Our response has emerged over the years culminating in the concept of Holistic Planning (HP).
HP understands implementation not as simply checking off tasks on an action plan, but as a process that begins the moment the idea of a plan pops into someone’s head. In that moment, who will participate and how power will be distributed start taking shape, sending the idea down a pathway of no return, like a ball rolling off the top of a hill. One way down brings it to non-implementation; another brings it toward Holistic Planning where its chances are greater. In any case, this hill can be found in the DICE World (dynamic, impossible to completely understand, complex, and ever changing or evolving) rather than the PLUS World (predictable, linear, understandable, stable). The ideas of HP, PLUS, and DICE are developed in the book, The Future Has Other Plans: Planning Holistically to Conserve Natural and Cultural Heritage (published December 2016).
The following illustration depicts the stages of how PUP applies Holistic Planning (other organizations may structure it differently). But this orientation is a simplification to make it more readily understandable. In fact, each case requires an individual, organic and evolutionary approach.
The definition of Holistic PlanningHolistic planning is a facilitated, continuous dialogue with heritage area constituencies designed eventually to construct a consensus about a desired evolving future. To accomplish this, Holistic Planning
- Recognizes emerging phenomena and interprets them through interior and exterior perspectives,
- Redistributes political power by integrating different forms of knowledge and implementing democratic reforms,
- Transforms constituency visions into reality through authentic conversation that defines many facets of vision,
- Cultivates constituent communities and strengthens their social capital, cohesion, and trust to learn from and implement management decisions, with sufficient adaptability to protect heritage values and share them with the wider public over the long term. This definition includes society’s evolutionary nature, considering for example just as the information society is the next stage of human organization that has evolved from industrial society, HP is the next stage evolved from Postmodern planning which has evolved from Rational Comprehensive Planning (RCP). In each case, later levels transcend and include the previous. HP does not discard RCP rather it preserves many healthy, adaptive, and useful aspects of both RCP and Postmodern planning (while letting other un-adaptive features go, such as the lack of interiority and the worship of empirical science). For example, HP still uses rationality, the scientific method, quantitative analysis, methodical tools, democracy, and international finance mechanisms — all valuable innovations of Modernism. It still uses public participation, community development, multicultural inclusion, and consensus-building (while letting value relativism and dislike of all hierarchies go) — all contributions from Postmodernism. It uses these contributions in a new light and the recognition that different levels of consciousness exist and thrive under different life conditions.