The Danger of Allocating Resources for “Just One Person”

Published June 11, 2018

There is a growing trend in organizations to apply a false formula when it comes to how they approach resource allocation. I call it the “just one person” logic, which implies that even if one person is helped through an initiative, it will have been worth it.

If you’ve found yourself falling into this trend, you need to:

  • Be aware of the trend
  • Recognize why the logic is faulty
  • Know how to respond

1) Be aware of the trend

The trend typically unfolds in this manner: During the budgeting process, someone will notice an unusually large dollar figure attached to a new or unproven initiative.

Churches will go so far as to say, “If only one person makes a decision for Christ, then every penny will have been worth it!”

The same reasoning pops up in other resource discussions too, such as:

  • If just one person hears about our company because of this marketing campaign…
  • If just one person agrees to start supporting our cause…
  • If just one person signs up for this program…

You get the idea. Put your radar on “full alert” when you start to hear “if just one person” language in your organization.

2) Recognize why the logic is faulty

In reality, there is a dangerous false economy at work with this reasoning. Suppose, for example, the line item is for $20,000, and it is being justified by the “if just one person” logic.

Could there be a more effective initiative that would use the same $20,000 but connect with 10 people? Or 20? Or 100?

3) Know how to respond

Those who toss the “if just one person” line into resource conversations often place a very high value on the importance of each individual who can be reached or impacted through the organization. That is a value worthy of respect.

The key is to respond with the equally important value of good stewardship. Have the courage to point out there is still a leadership responsibility at play that requires a maximum return on each dollar.

The stewardship value doesn’t negate the value of the individual; it simply places it into a proper context. Point out that the right to impact each individual is earned through the process of maximizing the return on each investment.

Maximizing resources is a vital leadership responsibility. Approach this role with wisdom, boldness and collaboration.

About the Author
Scott Cochrane

Scott Cochrane

Vice President of International

Global Leadership Network

Scott Cochrane serves as Vice President of International at the Global Leadership Network. An insightful and genuine leader, he travels the globe mentoring international teams. Prior to joining the GLN, he was the executive pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Kelowna, British Columbia, and provided leadership to the Global Leadership Network Canada.

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