Planning is considered to be the central function of management because it sets the pattern for the other activities to follow. "Planning means defining goals for future organizational performance and deciding on the tasks and use of resources needed to attain them" (Richard Daft). Planning encompasses four elements:
- Evaluating environmental forces and organizational resources
- Establishing a set of organizational goals
- Developing strategies and plans to achieve the stated goals
- Formulating a decision-making process
These elements are concerned with organizational success in the near future as well as success in the more distant future. Planning to the future, the manager develops a strategy for getting there. This process is referred to as strategic planning. Chapters 2 and 3 address the topic of management strategy and strategic planning.