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Different Planning Approaches PDF Print E-mail
Written by Barbara   
Sunday, 13 July 2008 12:12

Alaska Supports Plan-Driven, Agile and Chaotic Planning Approaches

The Alaska simulator supports plan-driven, agile and chaotic planning approaches each of which takes completely different views on planning. The major differences of these approaches are summarized in Table 1. Both the plan-driven and the agile approach consider planning to be an essential activity, while chaotic approaches often lack a sufficient degree of planning and regard plans as unnecessary paperwork. In plan-driven approaches the planning is usually done at the beginning and is not a repeated effort like in agile approaches (cf. Fig. 1). Chaotic approaches either do not perform any planning activities at all or they perform them arbitrarily.

Planning Approaches

Figure 1: Different Approaches of Planning


Although plan-driven and agile approaches recognize the value of planning, they have an entirely different perception of a plan. In plan-driven approaches a plan is viewed as a schema for execution. Instead, agile approaches use a plan rather like a guideline supporting decision making and recognize the fact that in dynamic environment plans are very often outdated and inaccurate. The famous quote of Dwight Eisenhower “in preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable” characterizes the agile perception of a plan very well (General Dwight D. Eisenhower). Further, both plan-driven and agile approaches have a fundamentally different strategy to deal with uncertainty. Plan-driven approaches try to deal with uncertainty by carefully planning everything upfront, which is only appropriate for processes which are close to both certainty and agreement. In contrast, agile approaches make decisions at the last responsible moment, which allows keeping options open and making decisions with the most information available (Mary and Tom Poppendieck 2006). Further, they plan for change and therefore make continuously investments to keep the cost of change low.


Table 1: Comparison of the Different Planning Approaches





Total time spend on planning




Time of planning

Beginning of project

During the entire project

Arbitrary time

Perception of a plan

Schema for execution

Guideline, help for decision making

Unnecessary paperwork

Strategies to deal with uncertainty

Careful upfront planning

Making decisions at the last responsible moment and reducing cost of change by planning for change


Application area

Simple processes

Best suited for complex processes; can be applied to the entire process spectrum



To allow for all the above planning approaches the Alaska simulator provides two different simulation modes. First, there is the plan-driven mode requiring the traveller to completely specify the journey before its execution can start. Second, there is the agile mode, which gives the traveller more freedom and allows for a more iterative approach to planning. This mode allows travellers to spread the planning activities over the entire duration of the simulation. In principle, using this mode a traveller has all freedom in respect to planning is able to plan his journey either plan-driven (if all the planning is done before), chaotic (if no or only little planning is done) and agile (if planning is done iteratively).

If you want to learn more about the different planning approaches read: “Case Study – Travelling 15.000 kilometres in 23 days to Alaska by Car”.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 July 2008 16:24