Don’t think “what can we do with what we have.” That is letting your limited budget drive your planning process. Instead, flip it around. 

Figure out what it will cost to succeed, not just survive, and then do the hard work of building the revenue to make it all possible. Let your plans drive your budget.

For example, we know a human services organization serving the vulnerable was working to solve a specific problem. We asked “how many people are in this situation?” They knew that the number was large–huge, in fact– but they didn’t have a solid estimate of the total size of the population they could potentially serve.

Their research revealed a huge population in need of their services. This was the catalyst for a significant in their thinking.

First, a sense of urgency immediately kicked in. The dialogue of “we’re proud of ourselves – we’ve served 200 people recently” suddenly felt tiny with the realization that the problem was vast and would take decades to solve. Goals that previously seemed unattainable were now planned and laid out: 1,000 people in one year; 5,000 in three years; 10,000 in five years.

Then a funny thing happened. Doors started opening. Staff became seriously focused. People wanted on the bus.

The bottom line is that organizations perform better when the people in those organizations understand the context in which their work is performed. They make better decisions. They work smarter. They get stuff done. They build excitement and urgency. And in doing so, they are able to have even more meaningful impact.

What are the questions your organization should be asking to create context?