Christopher Columbus had his plan of exploration in mind for years before the actual event. His problem was that he had to wait for the right time as well as the right people, money and technology to catch up with him.

We all know that the most critical step in the process of completing a project is the planning phase. Planning is the foundation of a project and ultimate success depends on the depth, details and flexibility of your planning efforts. Planning a simple birthday party or a voyage to a new world requires many of the same processes. Planning must address who, what, when, where, why and how. It must also address the resources that you control in terms of time, money, technology and people. Planning always requires that one consider the restraints that are imposed on the project. Here are a few considerations for successful planning.

Planning has to consider the time element and identify the critical points in the project. A birthday party that occurs a month after the celebratory date will probably not achieve the right outcome, likewise a voyage to a new world cannot occur until the vehicle used for transport is ready. Columbus had to wait for the proper political timing as well as the opportunity to take advantage of the technology involved in construction of a new type of ship called a caravel . It is imperative that the planning cycle consider either the time that the event must occur or the length of time that is necessary to accomplish all the tasks that are entailed in the project. Our birthday party has a date certain and we can use backward planning to establish the key dates when events must occur. The cake cannot be ordered a month before the event nor can it be ordered the day of the celebration. The voyage to a new world had to have a target date set so that all events that occurred were timed in a sequential manner that enabled the journey to proceed based on a schedule.

Money is always a critical consideration in successful planning endeavors. Even the most wealthy of people or nations have constraints. For our birthday party we will probably have some budget in mind. How much money will be spent on the cake? Will we rent a facility for the event or will it occur in a home? Will we buy balloons or party favors? All incur some expense. Likewise it is easy to imagine the expense of planning Columbus’ trip. The questions here are more complex. What will be sacrificed to pay for the voyage? Will there be money for maintaining the military force? It is easy to imagine the role of money in the planning process.

The availability of technology is also an important part of the planning process. Technology impacts the decisions we make about something as basic as a birthday party. Are invitees going to fly to the celebration? Will we email the bakery about the details of the cake? Can a virtual birthday party occur over the Internet? The technological challenges in planning the voyage of Columbus were numerous. The trip would probably not have been successful without inventions such as the astrolabe and caravel as well as advances in cartography.

People are the final consideration in planning. Some of the questions that must be addressed in planning are: How many are available? What skills do they possess? When do I need them?

This short article about planning highlights some of the considerations that are essential for success. It is hoped that it will shed some light on your planning endeavors and serve as an aid as you plan for events in your future. Columbus became an expert as he journeyed through the obstacles to success.

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