The process of systematic conservation planning involves many important transitions. Following the design stage, conservation areas on paper or computer screens must be turned into actions on the ground or in the water, shaped by cost, effectiveness and local acceptability. This transition has been difficult for conservation planners, requiring the reconciliation of two spatial scales of analysis and decision-making and even two world views. Yet, both regional-scale design and local-scale action are crucial to achieving conservation goals, and both have complementary strengths and limitations. One essential way of linking regional and local perspectives is to regard regional designs as in constant adjustment to local information and changing circumstances. Put another way, static regional designs are destined for the dustbin and only dynamic designs can extend their use-by dates beyond a year or so. This presents planners, managers, organisations, donors and politicians with some uncomfortable realities. I will talk about the reasons why designs must change, how these reasons depend on different planning situations, and then outline the conceptual, operational, policy and institutional challenges posed by dynamic designs.