Omnibus: Becoming a Good Sustainability Planning Practitioner

4th October 2010

Session 1: 1.30 - 2.15

Introduction to Planning Models - Step Models


In the sessions today we will examine models of planning, the processes whereby they involve people, and the methods that they apply to generate information. One of the fundamental competencies of a planner is to generate information, for and in planning, to make and take decisions. Our focus will be on planning for public purposes such as sustainable development, in contrast to private sector corporate planning and the planning we undertake in organizing our personal lives. We will explore the commonalities and differences among the kind of planning models appropriate to these differing purposes. As a planning practitioner you will want to continuously evolve a contingent understanding of the kinds of planning models that are appropriate to your values and the needs of the situations within which you work and the stakeholders whom you are assisting.

The words model, method, technique, tool are used in widely differing ways within the planning field, let alone outside of it, leading to ambiguities about what each means and includes. In this course I have chosen to use them in particular ways that are best explicated by the content of each of the sessions that follow. I encourage us to try and use them consistently with the ways in which they are introduced.

We begin by examining a basic model of planning, one that could be adapted for use in any situation. Read Peter Boothroyd's summary of his 7-step model that he has refined in diverse applications around the world and has introduced to SCARP students for the last two decades. Note the summary of his model is in the appendix of a strategic plan that used the planning model but you should just read the Appendix 3. To see how the model can be elaborated to meet the needs of particular planning situations read Promoting Local Economic Development (LED) Through Strategic Planning by Will Trousdale, who first learned the Boothroyd 7-step model as a SCARP student and has now evolved it into a 10-step model for the specific purposes of strategic planning for LED based on his own and the experience of others in undertaking such planning around the world.

As you might expect there are many different planning models being used by different planners in different situations. An alternative approach taught by Tim McDaniels in PLAN 599 (next fall) PLAN 548T (this fall) focuses on the more general issues of decision-making and policy analysis. This approach has been employed and developed by his graduate students working in various jobs. One group has assembled a web site to outline the approach and illustrate it with examples; they refer to it as "Structured Decision Making (SDM)". Compare their steps with Boothroyd's and Trousdale's

In preparation for this session, think about the questions on the agenda below as you do the readings. At the beginning of the session we will breakout for 15 minutes to brainstorm possible responses to the first two questions. Refresh your memory of how to productively conduct a group brainstorming exercise.


Boothroyd, P. 2006. Developing Community Planning Skills: Application of a Seven-Step Model. Appendix 3. Strategic Plan. UBC Department of Family of Family Practice. pp. 27-31.

Trousdale, W. 2005. Promoting Local Economic Development Through Strategic Planning. Volume 1: Quick Guide. UN Habitat and Ecoplan International.

Compass Resource Management Ltd. Structured Decision Making.


  1. What are the essential steps required in a planning model and what is the least number? Reflect on Boothroyd's 7 steps and Trousdale's 10.
  2. Does the 7-step SDM model differ from the Boothroyd and Trousdale models in any fundamental ways?
  3. Are the Boothroyd, Trousdale and SDM models descriptive or normative?
  4. What are key differences among models to meet the needs of public, private sector and personal planning?