Many of the experiences described in “Mastering the art of planning – 100 stories from urban planning practice” were embarrassing at the time; some were about less-than-supportive work environments; and a few were or could have been career limiting. For these reasons, all the stories are presented anonymously.
The illustrations in the book represent two fictitious young graduate planners, Beth and Tom, facing the situations described in the 100 stories.
On graduation Beth and Tom have the foundation blocks for good planning. Now they must apply in practice the theory and breadth of thinking learned at university. This is where they either master the art of planning or flounder. As new graduates one of the hardest things to understand is how the planning profession could be so different from what they learned at university.
In their first jobs after graduation Beth and Tom quickly realise that planning is both an art and a science and that there are many grey areas in both plan making and plan implementation. They learn there is a high, hard ground where they can make effective use of research-based theory and technique, and there is a swampy lowland where situations are confusing ‘messes’ incapable of technical solution.
In the theatre of planning Beth and Tom see the way people interact with the planning system to maximise or protect their private interests. Professional competence builds with experience as Beth and Tom gain an understanding of the facts and motivations behind stakeholder behaviour and develop strategies to deal with them successfully.
Planning, like mountain climbing, is all about challenge and perseverance. Beth and Tom acquire planning wisdom from personal experience through making choices and learning from the mistakes they make. They develop confidence, insight and resilience, gradually learning how to make the right decision or take the right action in any given circumstance.
At last things click into place and Beth and Tom and feel like they are in the right place. They have found what part of planning really interests them; what they are particularly good at and what they love doing. They have mastered the art of planning to become confident, insightful and resilient practitioners!