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Planning Under Pressure: The Strategic Choice Approach (Urban and Regional Planning Series) [Paperback]

J. Friend , A. Hickling
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

29 Oct 1987 008018765X 978-0080187655
This decision-centred approach has been widely hailed as a breakthrough in planning thought. It bridges the difficult gap between the aspirations of strategic planning and the realities of day-to-day management. The approach is specifically designed to help people plan under the familiar pressures of uncertainty, shortage of time, limited resources and conflicting interests. Since it first emerged from a pioneering study of British city government at work by operational researchers and social scientists, the approach has been applied to a wide range of organizational and interorganizational planning problems and has proved especially effective as an aid to interactive working in interdisciplinary groups throughout the world. This extensively illustrated book offers an authoritative, up-to-date guide to the subject. It is written not just as an introduction to the philosophy and techniques of strategic choice, but also as a handbook for quick reference by users. It includes illustrations from practical applications in several countries and will be invaluable not only to students of planning and academics, but also to practitioners working in any field of business management or public policy.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: A Pergamon Title (29 Oct 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 008018765X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0080187655
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,715,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

...this is an authorative text, on the ideas behind, and the application of strategic choice, based on twenty years' accumulated experience of two authors who were centrally concerned with the development of this unique approach to practical planning problems...it is exemplary in its use of examples throughout the book and thus recommended as a text book for students on all levels.
Professor Andreas Faludi, Professor of Planning, Universiteit Van Amsterdam
...offers a range of practical, effective methods which will enable people to analyze interconnected problems and work adaptively towards decisions.
Bibliographia
Planning under Pressure confronts the realities which planners must face when tackling complex decisions in a strategic way: uncertainty, shortage of time, limited resources and conflicting interests and demands. It offers a range of practical, effective methods which will enable people to analyze interconnected problems and work adaptively towards decisions...especially useful in stimulating collaboration between people of different disciplines, outlooks and skills.
Bibliographia
An excellent book, admirably updating the earlier book by Friend and Jessop. This will be the main 'rational methodology' text for the next 2 years at least.
Mr T B Smith, Department of Urban Planning, Leeds Polytechnic
What is original about this book is that it provides an elegant and coherent framework for working in this mode in a way that turns out to be both rigorous and flexible... Planning under pressure is both a clear introduction and an authoritative manual. In addition to informing and guiding, it may well play a third and equally important role: that of provoking... the authors challenge educators to design appropriate learning programs based on the philosophy and methods of strategic choice. I believe that this book provides ample stimulation for such a response. If it serves also to provoke re-appraisal of the ways in which many planning teams currently operate, and of the ways in which decision-making is currently taught, Planning under Pressure will be successful beyond its stated aims.
Urban Policy and Research
...inspection of the text does reveal not only a logic,but a rich experience of hundreds of talkshops in which real-world planning problems are subjected to an operations research,managerial treatment.
Environment and Planning A
This book represents a milestone in the history of an approach to decision aiding which is now over 20 years old... The book gives a clear impression of how strategic choice works and the types of situations in which it has been used by its proponents... There are many ideas and observations in the 300 pages of this book, which many readers of this journal will find valuable and interesting... There is a complete discussion of earlier literature at the end of the book and selected readings drawn from this will enable any reader to become fully aware of the history, theory, practice, and potential of an example of systems practice.
SYSTEMS PRACTICE
The strength of this book is that it gives a systematic exposition of the whole approach: the better known parts are placed in the whole. And the skill with which this is done cannot be too highly praised. The book is long, but clearly and logically structured. The text is easy to read and the meaning never obscure.
Town Planning Review.
There is little doubt that this is an important book, and a welcome one too: for it motivates, describes and illustrates the strategic-choice approach. It will undoubtedly become a classic of operational research, a constant source of reference for those working with and facilitating groups of strategic decision-makers. It is a book full of ideas and suggestions to enable decision-makers to identify, focus upon and think constructively about aspects of the issue before them... It has many subtitles, bit its strength derives, in the main, from the marvellously direct way in which the many diagrams it uses relate complex concepts to the issues at hand... I welcome and value this book. It is well written, and full of sound advice and experiences. It deserves a wide readership.
The Journal of the Operational Research Society. VOL 39 (1988)
It is of course nothing new to have the members of planning teams out of their chairs and working with newsprint and gusto. What is original about this book is that it provides an elegant and coherent framework for working in this mode in a way turns out to be both rigorous and flexible... Planning under Pressure is both a clear introduction and an author-itative manual. In addition to informing and guiding, it may well play a third and equally important role: that of provoking... The authors challenge educators to design appropriate learning programs based on the philosophy and methods of strategic choice. I believe that this book provides ample stimulation for such a response. If it serves also to provoke a re-appraisal of the ways in which many planning teams currently operate, and of the ways in which decision-making successful beyond its stated aims.
Urban Policy and Research. VOL 6 NO 3.
John Friend's contribution to the study of public policy has never been as fully acknowledged in either the academic world or the world of practice as the quality of that work would lead one to expect... This book, with his colleague Alan Hickling who has worked with John Friend on many projects, is the latest product of that work. It is designed as an 'introductory guide and a quick reference hand book' to the strategic choice approach. It is very much a practical guide. Well-presented, the text is supplemented with 89 full-page diagrams spread through the book, summarizing and illustrating the approach. The book is clear, easily followed and readily understood... For the very real merits of this work, its clarity of exposition and the importance of ideas suggests that an exposition of the relevance of the approach in other fields (for which some of the basic work has been done, as references in the book show) would bring rich dividends.
Public Administration.
Inspection of the text does reveal not only a logic, but a rich experience of hundreds of talkshops in which real-world planning problems are subjected to an operations research, managerial treatment.
Environment and Planning A, VOL 21 PAGES 549-566 1989

About the Author

Allen Hickling has a professional background in architecture and city planning, and practised in North America before joining the Tavistock Institute in 1971. From 1980 he worked for two decades as an independent decision process consultant, focusing in particular on multi-cultural projects to engage stakeholders in the development of environmental policies at local, national and international levels. He has designed and facilitated planning workshops in 29 countries in six continents, while introducing many of his collaborators to the skills of process management he has acquired. John Friend is co-author of two earlier books on strategic choice and inter-organizational planning. Gradually forsaking his early schooling in mathematics, he spent a decade in industrial operational research before joining the Tavistock Institute in 1964. Since becoming a freelance consultant in 1986, he has held visiting research professorships at the universities of Sheffield and Lincoln. He has recently developed interactive software based on the Strategic Choice Approach, while also pioneering the use of participatory decision-centred methods in international development and community empowerment. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
There is a three-day workshop that focuses on developing individual and organisational capabilities for strategic decision-making in the face of real-time pressures, based on this book, now in its 3rd edition.
Based on ground-breaking research by management scientists in the UK's Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, the Strategic Choice Approach enables users to make rapid progress together in responding to different sources of uncertainty in an adaptive and resource-effective way.
The balanced and flexible set of methods offered within this approach is now being applied worldwide by planners, manager, consultants and project co-ordinators. The approach is flexible and decision-centred, so it can adapt quickly to changing situations, starting from the knowledge already in people's heads.
Among the distinctive features of SCA are:
• Powerful tools of graphical communication to help people in building a shared view of the structure of complex issues, whether or not they start from shared perspectives and values;
• Methods of enabling groups to share insights into key sources of uncertainty that get in the way of decisions - political or administrative as well as technical - and to agree on effective strategies of response;
• An action planning framework known as the progress package, to help decision-makers in balancing commitments to urgent action against flexibility of future choice
This 3-day workshop covers the principles of SCA as presented in the book 'Planning under Pressure' - now in its Third Edition - jointly written by the workshop Leader Prof. John Friend.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A valuable alternative to 'classical' strategic planning 23 Feb 2005
By Bill Godfrey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book looks a bit intimidating on first approach, and it is certainly long, comprehensive and detailed. However, there is an excellent 'quick access guide' immediately before the first chapter.

On taking the plunge, its good qualities rapidly become apparent. Anyone with an interest in planning, including senior managers, should at least read the Quick Access Guide and the first Chapter, Foundations. Many will be tempted to move forward, partly by the exceptionally useful diagrams which brilliantly illustrate the authors' underlying frameworks for planning. Planning specialists will find the whole book a valuable reference and guide to process.

There are innumerable books about business planning, most of which are concerned with short and long run profitability and competitive positioning as a major objective. There are far fewer that address the universals of strategic choice, whether the objective is to build a business, develop a community or plan a town precinct. This is one of the few books on strategic planning that really fit public sector organisations without heavy 'translation'. It is in fact an excellent description of sound processes for policy creation. At the same time, it is also valuable in providing useful conceptual and process rigour in support of conventional private sector strategic planning.

It is, above all, a guide to strategic thinking and interaction, seen as a continuous process of making choices in an understanding of the connectedness of issues and the dynamic nature of the environment. In style it is reminiscent of Weisbord, Marvin R, et al. Discovering Common Ground: How future search conferences bring people together. and Weisbord, Marvin R and Janoff, Future Search on future search, with their emphasis on extensive use of working drawings in the text and a process that depends heavily on open interaction.

In many ways it is complementary to the literature of future search. Future search tends to concentrate on the human dynamics involved in gaining consent, with less attention given to the, often very complex, underlying analysis that is needed to identify solutions that will work in practice. Planning under Pressure, on the other hand, has a sharp focus on a set of processes for arriving at sound decisions through time in conditions of complexity. It does not give much overt attention to who should take part (other than that the processes should be participative) or how to encourage the human process of working through our hopes, fears and mental models to arrive at decisions which people can embrace, although it does emphasize four important shifts from 'classical' planning:

* from routine procedures towards a continuous learning process

* from expert techniques towards open technology with a focus on decisions

* from individual working to interactive participation across all 'boundaries'

* from 'problem solving' to incremental progress towards strategic products

The underlying theme is the continuing need to make strategic choices through 'creative management of multiple uncertainties'.

The authors work through four modes of operation that are fundamental to the process:

* shaping mode is concerned with structuring a complex problem in terms of a set of decision areas, some of which are connected through decision links (this process is similar to the Ackoff, Russell L. Creating the Corporate Future: Plan or be Planned for concept of 'formulating the mess')

* in designing mode a set of decision options is identified for each decision area and feasible decision schemes are developed

* in comparing mode, comparison areas are formulated and relative assessments made

* in choosing mode uncertainties are developed and explored and a 'commitment package' is developed

These 'modes' are not used in a rigid cycle, but flexibly and iteratively. Skills in each mode are addressed in depth in a chapter of its own (Chapters 5-8)

The remaining chapters are addressed primarily to those who will be responsible for managing the process, being concerned with 'Practicalities', the use of electronic tools to support the process and extensions of the techniques to policy work, project management and developing common ground. (It is unfortunate that the second edition has not made any reference to Weisbord's work, which is highly complementary to this.)

It is also unfortunate that there is not more reference to systems dynamics, particularly to 'soft systems' technologies. This too is a complementary body of theory and practice. In many situations its use would add richness and robustness to the four 'modes of working', particularly through its capacity to highlight delay and the impact of unintended consequences.

Planning under Pressure offers a useful analytical alternative to 'classical' strategic planning approaches; it offers an invaluable analytical tool for all forms of planning such as policy planning that are not business based; and it provides a complementary body of analytical tools to support participative approaches to developing preferred futures and community building activities.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My friend recommended this book. It arrived in great shape, still to read it.... 25 Dec 2012
By Anthony Boff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My friend recommended this book. It arrived in great shape, still to read it....It's supposed to be full of great information. I wonder if I will ever unlock its treasures? SO many other books on the to read list.
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