How (Goals, Strategy, Planning and Resources)

How to achieve a plan – planning resources

The Right Questions Money and resource planning

How are we going to achieve our plan?  By what means and resources?

Quite often we limit ourselves and our plan to our present resources.  After all it is reasonable to ask ‘Which holiday can I afford?’ before going and booking one.  Budgeting is good stewardship and I would certainly not recommend getting into debt on a whim.

But we will never be able to dream big or make macro leaps forward if we limit our goals to what we can achieve with the resources we have now.  It is better to first ask what we are passionate about doing, working out the resources required, and then thinking creatively of ways to get what we need.  That is why this question comes some way down the planning process.

How Project Plan - The Right QuestionsThe importance of logistics

An army needs logistics and a large portion of the army is concerned with delivering the right resources to the right people in the right places.  In fact, there are many more logisticians than infantry soldiers in the average army.  But the army does not exist for logistics, it has a mission to do, and that aim is very rarely just to do with moving men and equipment from one place to another.  Logistics is a large and essential part of achieving your aim but it is there to support the mission, not to drive it.  History testifies to the fact that an army will beg, borrow and steal if necessary to get the job done if (or rather when) logistics fail.  You can still achieve your aim when resources are difficult to come by if you remain focussed; as the United States Marine Corps would say: you just need to ‘improvise, adapt and overcome!’

The right motivation is key

This is because there are very few times when finances and resources are fixed.  Having the powerful motivation that comes from a compelling vision inspires us to innovate and save, earn and raise the funding that we need and find the tools to get the job done.

Why is it that many people who win the lottery often struggle and end up having spent their money within a few years?  The gambling industry sells winning as the dream; it does not provide a vision for what comes beyond that.  Many people who win do not have a clear idea of what they want to do with the money beyond taking a nice holiday and paying off the mortgage (things that you can do without playing the lottery or the roulette wheel).

People who make large amounts of money, who use them productively and yet whose resources continue to grow, are usually driven by a vision beyond that of just making a pile of cash.  Bill Gates, the richest man in the world for most of the last decade, was not motivated primarily by money.  When he started Microsoft with Paul Allen they had a vision of ‘a computer in every home’ and this dream of how computing could transform the world drove Microsoft to be the most successful software business in the world and made Bill Gates a ‘centibillionaire’.

Money, Manpower and Materiel

So we start with the dream and then work out what we need to make it a reality.  When we need to make something happen it generally comes down to the three ‘M’s: Money, Manpower and Materiel.  Cash, workers and equipment are all important but it is usually the first element, the money, which drives others; so this is the primary consideration here (we will look at the people issue more under the ‘Who’ question).

Cost evaluation and estimate The Right QuestionsEstimating the cost

When we have our dream or our goal, we can start to put a cost against it.  If it is hard to assess the cost for a whole goal we can break it down, as we have done previously, and cost each constituent task or step.

Remember to put a cost against the time you invest in achieving the goal.  When doing something yourself you can feel you are getting it done for free but that is not actually true.  Our time is worth something, even if it is just the opportunity-cost of not being able to do something else while we are engaged with a task we have decided upon.  Often it will turn out cheaper to pay someone else to do a task that can be delegated as this leaves you just the things that no-one else can do and you will achieve your goal all the sooner.  We will look at delegation some more under the ‘Who’, but having broken down tasks and now putting costs to them will help you make decisions on the team you might need.

Alternative funding

Once you have estimated a cost for each task you will get an idea of the budget for the whole goal or mission.  Once this has been done you can start to think creatively about how to reduce the costs or get your resources in more inventive ways (and no I am not talking about stealing here!).

For example instead of paying for a qualified professional, could you get someone to do the work voluntarily or as an intern for you? If someone is still in training or education they may value the experience more than the pay.  Alternatively, think about what service or product you might be able to offer someone in return for the resources you need?

I used this method when I employed someone to develop my website. They worked on the website in return provided some coaching to help them further their career. It was an easy win for both of us, and no cash changed hands.

Fuel the dream

Considering the resources we need and how we are going to get them is another important aspect of how we make our dreams real.  An idea becomes a lot more tangible as we think about and assess the tools and materials we need for the job. It can take some time, and may not be as liberating as some of the big picture thinking, but it is important so stick with it!

“First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.” Aristotle

Have you overcome a resource gap to achieve a goal or dream? Do share your story in the comments!

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