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Reactive vs Proactive

Unusual challenges call for unusual solutions. And the present situation, in which the entire world finds itself, is nothing if not challenging. And now that the shock of the pandemic has somewhat gotten absorbed businesses the world over are gearing up to reinvent themselves.

All organizations plan; the only difference is their approach. Prior to starting a new strategic planning process it is necessary to assess the past planning approach. Some past strategies may continue to be relevant while others may need to go through a complete transformation.

The key to success is, however, timely action and premptive action.

The four possible approaches to planning are:

  1. Reactive – past oriented
    Reactive planning is an active attempt to turn back the clock to the past. The past, no matter how bad, is imagined to be better than the present. And definitely better than the future will be. The past is romanticized and there is a desire to return to the “good old days.” Past oriented people seek to undo the change that has created the present, and they fear the future, which they attempt to prevent.
  2. Inactive – present oriented
    Inactive planning is an attempt to preserve the present, which is preferable to both the past and the future. While the present may have problems it is considered better than the past. The expectation is that things are as good as they are likely to get and the future will only be worse. Any additional change is likely to be for the worse and should therefore be avoided.
  3. Preactive – predict the future
    Preactive planning is an attempt to predict the future and then to plan for that predicted future. Technological change is seen as the driving force bringing about the future, which will be better than the present or the past. The planning process will seek to position the organization to take advantage of the change that is happening around them.
  4. Proactive – create the future
    Proactive planning involves designing a desired future and then inventing ways to create that future state. Not only is the future a preferred state, but the organization can actively control the outcome. Planners actively shape the future, rather than just trying to get ahead of events outside of their control. The predicted changes of the preactive planner are seen not as absolute constraints, but as obstacles that can be addressed and overcome.

And so the time to be reactive and transactional is clearly behind us. The call of the hour is to be preactive and better still to be proactive. To have answers before questions start to loom on the horizon.

Those who can look into the future and have a plan in hand are the ones who shall rule the future.

For more on this you might like to explore:

Dr. Vandana R. Singh and Arindam Ghosh
Written for Schoolnet India & Learnet Skills on 17 May 2020

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