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Topics: Change Management, Risk Management
Plan vs. Planning

I have just captured that these two terms have different meanings as follows from AXELOS' "Best Management Practice portfolio: common glossary of terms and definitions, version 1, Oct. 2012.
- plan: A detailed proposal for doing or achieving something which specifies the what, when, how and by whom. In PRINCE2 there are only the following types of plan: project plan, stage
plan, team plan, exception plan and benefits review plan.
- planning: An activity responsible for creating one or more plans – for example, capacity planning.
"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable"- Eisenhower
Do you always use these words without confusion?
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Yes. Planning is the activity. Plan is the outcome. I sustain that you always have a plan. Explicit of implicit, in paper or not, you always have a plan.

Yes, makes sense to me. A plan is a proposal while planning is the activity.

Yes, the difference is clear. Planning is a process, a set of related activities. The plan is the output of planning. it is the product of the process.

Yes, planning is the process to think about the future. There may be many scenarios, and as many potential plans. Selecting one of them is usually the plan we are talking about.
Take a fire department, they are preparing for multiple futures like house on fire, car accident, flooding etc. and so this planning results in multiple plans. Depending on the situation, one of these plans is executed.

Yes, the two are quite distinct to me.

Planning is a process that involves all of the analysis and preparation needed to succeed. It is notable for it's longevity: planning is iterative and continuous throughout a project. PMI does a really good job describing some of the domains of planning through the knowledge areas in their Planning Process Group.

A plan, by contrast, is an output of planning that forecasts the life of the project from the point in time at which the plan is produced. Plans are notable for their temporary nature- they are only accurate until their execution begins.

The Eisenhower quote you shared illustrates the difference really well.

Mike Tyson - "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."

All things being equal, I'd rather be planning :-)

"To plan" and "planning" are verbs, refering to an action. "Planning" can be used as a noun but it's still refering to an action. E.g. Planning is good.

"The plan" is a noun, refering to a thing.

To emphasize the difference and possibly confuse: Planning (action as noun) is when you plan (action) to produce the plan (thing).

The message here is to be clear what you mean and what is understood. I agree with Robert that plan can be used as a verb or as a noun. When used as a noun the plan is the product of planning. I used the word as a verb when I gave a speech at PMI Synergy the UK a couple of years ago entitled 'To Plan or not to Plan'

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