An IDP is like driving a car on vacation, not like flying to the destination. Going from NY to LA can take hours in a plane, but days in a car. Along the route in a car, the driver can map out the journey, saying "I will see Pennsylvania first, then Ohio, then Indiana..." Drivers always know where they are on the trip, but a plane flyer usually never knows until the tires hit the runway.

An individual development plan (IDP) is a tool to assist employees in career and personal development. Its primary purpose is to help employees reach short and long-term career goals, as well as improve current job performance. An IDP is not a performance evaluation tool or a one-time activity.