What is a Good Plan? Cultural Variations in Expert Planners’ Concepts of Plan Quality

Rasmussen, Louise J, Sieck, Winston R and Smart, Paul R (2009) What is a Good Plan? Cultural Variations in Expert Planners’ Concepts of Plan Quality Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making, 3, (3), pp. 228-253.


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This article presents the results of a field research study examining commonalities and differences between American and British operational planners’ mental models of planning. We conducted Cultural Network Analysis (CNA) interviews with 14 experienced operational planners in the US and UK. Our results demonstrate the existence of fundamental differences between the way American and British expert planners conceive of a high quality plan. Our results revealed that the American planners’ model focused on specification of action to achieve synchronization, providing little autonomy at the level of execution, and included the belief that increasing contingencies reduces risk. The British planners’ model stressed the internal coherence of the plan, to support shared situational awareness and thereby flexibility at the level of execution. The British model also emphasized the belief that reducing the number of assumptions decreases risk. Overall, the American ideal plan serves a controlling function, whereas the British ideal plan supports an enabling function. Interestingly, both the US and UK would view the other’s ideal plan as riskier than their own. The implications of cultural models of plans and planning are described for establishing performance measures and designing systems to support multinational planning teams.

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 1555-3434 (print)
Keywords: Military Planning, Cultural Models, Mental Models, Cultural Network Analysis, Plan Quality, Coalition Operations
Organisations: Web & Internet Science
ePrint ID: 265858
Date :
Date Event
12 November 2009Published
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2009 08:26
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2017 19:13
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/265858

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