Make A Plan

INtentionally Intentional

The 90/10 Solution

Business Consulting


My observation is that it really doesn’t matter the type of training, the education nor the profession, many people think little about planning.  Whether it’s a business, ministry or even vacation plans, some people really don’t understand how important it is to have a plan.
While many quote are attributed to people incorrectly, Benjamin Franklin, one of the most interesting of our Founding Fathers, was a gifted writer and publisher of “Poor Richard’s Almanack”.  In it he penned the phrase, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Yet, many fail to heed his advice. 

When my wife and I were first married, we talked often of our dreams and hopes for the future.   It wasn’t until we had been married a few years that we actually sat down and came up with a financial plan to buy a house.

A plan doesn’t have to be long or detailed it just has to be thought out. Plans always include timelines so having a goal, a few action steps and a timeline is a great outline for most plans.    Too many of us find ourselves in situations where we can easily think of ourselves as a victim of our circumstance when it is being a victim of a lack of planning.  

Jesus was even a fan of planning as when he was talking about the cost of following him He said, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Luke 14:28

There are a few lessons that I've learned along the way about things that matter. Since my training is in finance and economics, it's no surprise that my lessons are quantitative rather than qualitative.

I thought I'd pass them along however:

1) Things that matter are measured.

If it's important, we find a way to measure it. While some things are relatively easy to measure (i.e. number of people, revenue, how long something takes), other things are more difficult. If something is difficult to measure that doesn't mean we don't measure it. For example, an employee's performance is a difficult measurement, but most HR professionals encourage an annual evaluation that is based on some standard assessment.

2) What you measure tells people what matters.

The lesson here is that people are watching. If you are a race car driver and never bother to measure how long it takes you to do the quarter mile people will think you are not very serious about racing. In an organization, if getting things done matter, measure what gets done and how long it takes. People will take notice.

3) There are a very limited number of measurements that can truly matter.

This is what I call the 'scoreboard' approach. In a football game, there are all kinds of things that are measured including time of possession, number of yards penalized, passer ratings, offensive yards, etc. The only thing that really matters however is the score. One team walks away a winner, the other goes home the loser. The thing that truly matters is the score.


I always enjoy seeing intentionality.   I think most of us enjoy clarity and intentionality is one of the best ways to communicate clearly.   Over time, intentionality is one of the traits or skills I’ve tried to master.

When I’m talking with organizational leaders, I often suggest that intentionality is one of the key factors of success.  In fact, without being intentional, it’s difficult to even know when you have achieved success.   Over time, I’ve joined the adverb to the adjective and often talk about being ‘Intentionally intentional’.    This is not all that unusual to combine words for emphasas as I’ve I have seen other consultants talking about being committed to commitment or being earnestly earnest just for example.

Intentionality however is the granddaddy of them all. People that are non-intentional go through life just bouncing from one activity to the other and filling their days with activity.   While that is a lazy way to live, it’s a horrible way to lead an organization.
I’ve upset the applecart often, perhaps that is why I do consulting. While “leadership” is in vogue for many good reasons, I remind organizational leaders that great leaders understand that they need managers to be productive and achieve results.   Management is ‘intentional’ about planning, directing, controlling and organizing the company. 

‘Intentionally intentional’ is a skill that once mastered, begins to be useful in so many ways.   Meetings that are meaningful are intentional. No one wants to attend meetings that have no agenda, no goal, no intentionality.   Organizations that are intentional about everything from monthly sales to product launches to service and process improvements will not only rise quickly to the top of the class but also easily be able to measure the relative success of their efforts.

Here are some suggestions for all leaders:

1. Be more intentional—identify objectives and direction and specify intended results

2. Demonstrate intentionality by staying focused on desired results and being accountable for the results. 

3. Become more intentional in your personal growth.

4. Inspire others to become more intentional. 

‘Intentionally intentional’ is a catchy little phrase that can go a long way into turning regular activities and daily routines into purposeful actions that deliver intended results.


I always smile when I hear someone that claims they are giving it 150 percent.

I certainly understand why they are making the claim, they are trying to communicate clearly that they are extending every effort to accomplish a task.

Most of us understand that 150 percent is arguably impossible. One of the things I teach as well is that 100 percent is also not a good objective when it comes to church processes, procedures and systems. A more reasonable objective is to achieve 90 percent of what is desired as the additional effort to achieve it all requires a huge expenditure of resources, both capital (money) as well as time that can be better used on other endeavors. In fact studies have shown that often 90 percent of the desired result can be accomplished with as little as 10 percent of the effort: A 90/10 solution.

Let’s assume that you are leading a church that is looking into a computer system that has capabilities that include children check-in, small groups, membership, giving and volunteer tracking. Being a good leader you assemble the heads of various ministries, announce to them that you are going to be purchasing and/or developing a new system that handles the handful of tasks you have already identified and invite them to become a member of the selection and implementation team.

After a few meetings, the newly assembled team now has some very specific requirements that includes all of the above plus: historical giving information, archived membership information, a social-media interface that provides both Twitter and Facebook updates, a project management system, the ability to track an unlimited number of designated funds, the ability to record prayer requests, track class registration, import and display family and individual photos and another twenty or so desirable attributes.

If the team was actually insistent about achieving all of their objectives including a desire for the resulting system to be so flexible that anything forgotten can be easily added on in the future, they would find that the cost of implementing the 100 percent solution would be extremely expensive. 

However, if they selected a solution that would hit the ground running and provide 90 percent of all of the desired attributes, the costs would be about 10 percent of the 100 percent solution.

It is actually pretty simple to understand that the first 90 percent of almost any project can be accomplished or implemented with about 10 percent of the effort. This applies not only to church computer systems but also decisions that we make on a daily basis. A chef may take a trip to his favorite market possibly in a different city to select exactly the right cut for a dinner party while those of us with more modest expectations can stop at the local grocery store and find something already cut, packaged and priced at a much lower cost.

This 90/10 approach also applies to church construction, video and audio equipment, furnishings and publications. It is much better stewardship of resources to understand that being able to provide a 90 percent solution is not only much more economical but also allows other projects, ideas and ministry wishes to be considered and funded.

Give 100 percent to those things that are clearly directed by the Lord. Do 100 percent discipleship, encourage 100 percent unity, and develop 100 percent parents. Do more ministry by embracing a 90/10 solution for those things that are desired but not needed.

Reprint from Church Executive Magazine September 2011