By Olasupo Jubril Adedimeji


Successfully programs don’t just happen. They are the outcome of painstaking consideration as to why a body or organization exists and what its members want to achieve.[1] Several organizations have taken the two phases as a priority that can not be joked with. Hence, he who fails to plan, plan to fail. There may be the presence of capital, labor, and other factors that can prompt a successful program, but the program will still not go as imagined. It is on this premise that we would go on a quest to the principles of bringing imagination into reality.

This paper examines what program planning entails without bypassing the main principles attached to it and steps to be taken in painstakingly planning a program. It also examines the next step to take after the planning stage, which gives exclusive expos on principles that could successfully execute a program with ease. It further looks at the steps to take to learn from the success or otherwise of a program with some questions to serve as a guide.


One of the different types of planning available is program planning. Program planning is deciding what needs to be done and who does what, when, and where.[2] The two key elements in successful program planning are the program or project itself and the interest and involvement of group members.[3] It is sometimes called program design or program design planning.

Lawrence G. Hrebiniak, in Making Strategy Work: Leading Effective Execution and Change, wrote that Without a careful, planned approach to execution, strategic goals cannot be attained. This then drives us to beg the question of what are the principles of program planning, and what are the ways in attaining it? Indeed, the main principles of program planning include –

  1. Programme-planning should be based upon a careful analysis of a factual situation.[4]
  2. Problems for action are selected based on the recognized needs of the beneficiaries.[5]
  3. Program planning should be educational and directed towards bringing about desirable change.[6]
  4. Program planning should have a provision for the evaluation of results.[7]
  5. Objectives and solutions are to be feasible and offer satisfaction.[8]

Having listed the essential principles of program planning that must be followed for desirable results, we then move into the second question. Program planning involves multiple steps, which include: the identification of issues and the completion of a risk assessment, assessment of available resources, analysis of the situation, selection of desired outcomes, and evaluation of the program.

  1. Identify issues and complete a risk assessment: No program is risk-free. Crossing your fingers and hoping for the best will do no good. It is advisable to ask yourself these questions: Are there any issues you know of upfront that will affect the program planning process, like a key team member’s absence? What unforeseen circumstances could create hiccups?[9]

And what realistic solution can be applied in case of some unexpected situations? When developing a program plan, you should know how to manage risk in a program and consider the ways you should take to either prevent certain risks from happening or limit their negative impact. Conduct a risk assessment and develop a risk management strategy to make sure you’re prepared.[10]

  • Assessment of available resources: The resulting list of program ideas should be examined carefully, and the pros and cons of each considered. Required time, money, and resources (physical and human) should be discussed. Does it include both fun and educative activities? Does it meet the objectives of the organization? Have alternative plans been outlined in case a problem arises?[11]

Does the program involve all members? And so on. In making program decisions, the planners must proceed slowly, dealing with everyone’s concerns to maintain group support for the program. Remember, successful program planning takes time to make sure people have had a chance to speak, to explore alternatives, and to understand the varied points of view.[12]

If decisions are made too quickly, then someone has probably been left behind, which connotes that the person’s ideas, which might be better, have been thrown into the trash. Thus, planning should be collaborative and not esoteric. Who said that? Me.

  • Analyze the situation: Take a look at your organization. Who is the target audience? Who are the members, and what has been their involvement with the organization? Has membership been increasing or decreasing? What finances and other resources are available? What happened in the last programs? Having a good set of records and periodic surveys of the members will help to answer these questions.[13]
  • Write the desired outcomes: Tie-down your goals with writing. In their book Sun Tzu: The Art of War for Managers, Gerald A. Michaelson and Steven Michaelson cite that: A common mistake is to consider planning as only a mental process, an idea in our head that simply looks at the past and adjusts for the future.[14]

If your plan is not in writing, you do not have a plan at all. Instead, you have only a dream, a vision, or perhaps even a nightmare. This is not about producing long planning documents that very few read. Rather, it is about producing a simple written plan that is easy to understand, such as a strategy map.

After the adherence of these steps and duties have been assigned, the next is execution. Remember, plans made don’t always match plans used. The plan so carefully put together and recorded at every stage should serve only to guide activity, not reduce flexibility. If a change in the plan becomes necessary because of a situation beyond control, then proceed to plan B.

Therefore, there is a need for a contingency plan. As the plan proceeds, it is important to keep everyone informed of progress by phone, mail, or meetings.


Ideas come a dime a dozen. But why do we see so few ideas succeed? The answer is execution. Without great execution, no idea could achieve the heights it is supposed to reach.[15] If I am to put numbers to it, in my opinion and experience, success depends 80% on execution and 20% on planning.[16] The Programme Execution Phase is the third phase in the project management life cycle, and not only it consumes the most energy and resources, but it is also the most vital amongst the three phases.

It is pretty evident by now as to how crucial it is to ensure your plans are realized with clinical precision and none to minimal deviation. To avoid poor execution of a good program plan, the leading planner must have the ability to clearly define and communicate the plan to co-planners in a format that is easy to comprehend. This is necessary for ensuring that everyone has an idea of what the key priorities of the organization are and their role in accomplishing these.

Let us take a look at some principles that could successful execute a planned program, which includes: the careful selection of the members of your executing team, outline of your goals and keeping SMART, engenders internal motivation in your team, manages your resources wisely, and prudently, keep a rhythm to meetings, and continuous checking.

  1. Carefully select the members of your executing team: Once you’ve clearly defined the scope of the program, identifying the talents needed to execute your vision becomes easier. Carefully select the individuals who will make up your executing team and delegate tasks and activities to people best suited for each. Proper task delegation can come off as a show of confidence in your team members’ inherent abilities, which then boosts morale and becomes instrumental in bringing about the best possible program results – a domino effect, if you will.[17]
  • Outline your goals and keep them SMART: Having a clear idea of what to expect for a final product allows you to create short-term goals. Outline goals that are

After delegating the appropriate tasks to your team members, have each of the lists down subtasks that will serve as milestones towards their final goal, and then let them set their deadlines for each milestone. These deadlines, of course, have to coincide with the project’s overall time targets.[18]

  • Engender internal motivation in your team: When it comes to motivating teams, awarding members for good performance takes the cake over punishing those that underperform. As each team member achieves a milestone, recognize their accomplishments through team R&R (rewards and recognition) sessions,

or even one-on-one, as knowing their contributions are valued by the organization makes people more inclined to perform. Also, it’s worth noting that some individuals may like the attention of being acknowledged publicly, and some prefer to have their accomplishments recognized by their leaders privately.[19]

  • Manage your resources wisely and prudently: Book or acquire the resources you will need before diving headfirst into the program. Resources include budget allocation, venues in the case of focus groups, conferences or events you’ll need to hold, tools that your team members will require, and human resources in the case of third-party specialists and consultants. Booking resources ahead of time can also help you more easily manage your program’s budget.[20]
  • Keep a rhythm to meetings: Without continuous communication, co-planners can lose touch with the program’s goals and objectives. Over time co-planners, and even the head of the program department can veer off course. This leads to poor results, which can have a disastrous effect on an organization.[21]

In every meeting, Bahaa Moukadam, founder and head coach at SeeMetrics Partners, recommends that each meeting concludes with a review of what was decided, who’s responsible for delivering what, and when it’s due or a “WWW summary.” This summary should be created at the meeting and delivered immediately by email or other means to ensure that salient points are kept top of mind.[22]

  • Continuous Checking: Follow-up the activities carried out at regular intervals during and before the program (When test running the instrument needed). Keep adequate records of each activity as a base for the evaluation of results.


After the end of the program, find out what the participants thought about the program. Consider how the success of your program will be measured. How will you know if you’ve done a good job? Periodically through a long-term program, progress towards goals, tasks left to be done, relevance of goals to the group’s interest, and other concerns should be evaluated.[23]

By reviewing the program regularly, changes can be made to assist in achieving the desired objectives. Set a time at the end of the program to evaluate the accomplishment of goals and attendance, and involvement of members. Consider the participants’ reactions. What do they think might be improved? Getting and using feedback from the members will keep them involved in the direction of the organization and maintain their commitment to the group.[24]

Reconsider your tactics. Were they appropriate? Were alternatives required? Judge your work plan. Were tasks done right? Were deadlines met? Assess communication within your organization. Did everybody understand the program plan? Periodic evaluations of any program can revitalize the program, group members, and leaders. A systematic method of planning is essential.[25]


The presence of materials may be in existence, but a lack of proper use of the material will be futile. In light of this, some principles aid in the proper use of the materials available, which are the bedrock of program planning. However, the principles are not sufficient to map out a successful program planning map. Thus, the need for steps in planning a program which includes: the identification of issues and the completion of a risk assessment, assessment of available resources, analysis of the situation, selection of desired outcomes, and evaluation of the program.

The successful completion of the first stage gives room for the next imperative stage, which can bring into the reality of the first stage through the careful selection of the members of your executing team, an outline of your goals, and keeping SMART, engenders internal motivation in your team, manages your resources wisely and prudently, keep a rhythm to meetings, and continuous checking. With these and the follow-up of the program, a planned program could successfully see the day of the light in flying colors because a program can’t just be successful without the aid of other imperative ways, or can a tree make a forest?


About the Author


Olasupo Jubril Adedimeji is a Law Student at Lagos State University. He has a great penchant for knowledge, research, and writing. Also, he is committed to continuous personal development, which is driven by a strong desire to attain excellence and perfection in the legal realm through dedication and competence.


[1] Ruth Friendship-Keller, ‘Program Planning for Organizations’, accessed 15th November 2020.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ignou THE PEOPLE’S UNIVERSITY, ‘Programme Planning’,, accessed 16th November 2020.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Emily Bonnie, Project Management Basics: 6 steps to a Foolproof Project Plan’,, accessed 15th November 2020.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ruth Friendship-Keller, ‘Program Planning for Organizations’, accessed 15th November 2020.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Peter Chisambara, ‘The Basics of Strategic Planning and Strategy Execution’,, accessed 15th November 2020.

[15] Jwngshar, ‘5 reasons why execution is more critical than planning’, accessed 15th November 2020.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Maricel Rivera, ‘7 key ingredients to successful project execution and completion’,, accessed 16th November 2020.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Jesse Torres, 4 Steps to successful Execution of a Strategy’,, accessed 16th November 2020.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ruth Friendship-Keller, ‘Program Planning for Organizations’, accessed 15th November 2020.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.