Think big, plan small and action each day

Turning vision into reality requires us to think big, plan small and action each day as different levels of planning and execution are necessary to make a vision happen. Too broad and we either underestimate scope or can be paralysed by the enormity of the task or too detailed and we can lose sight of the original objective.

I believe how well we do this individually can even flow onto how effective organisations are at implementing strategic plans. Maybe you’ve seen this scenario before at your work where senior management go offsite for a strategic meeting to determine the company’s strategic plan. Yet afterwards little progress seems to be made and the most common reasons are that implementation either wasn’t truly built into the plan or the people who will implement it were just too busy with their day to day job or other priorities.

This inability to execute is supported in PwC’s 17th annual Global CEO Survey where 78% of Global CEOs surveyed expected to transform their organisation, yet only 54% of them were satisfied with their ability to execute on their strategic vision. However, the purpose of illustrating this isn’t meant to be rant about companies as a whole, more so it’s about what can we be doing either better or differently on an individual basis.

Most of us are though experienced at turning a vision into a plan and then into activity. Think of a holiday you’ve been on which would have the big idea (the holiday at a certain destination), the detailed planning (time of year, accommodation travel etc) and finally the activity of going on the holiday.

To relate this to your work then consider:

  • Year / quarter: What is your big picture vision for the year and quarter? (Even if you aren’t a manager you will still have goals, objectives or targets. So think about what you need to do to achieve them)
  • Month / week: To deliver the vision, what are your specific plans for the month and the week?
  • Day: To execute the vision and the plan, what are the tasks or activity linked to the vision you will do each day?


The reasons for approaching it like this are:

  • Vision helps drive strategy, but vision without a plan is too macro to truly estimate resources, timelines and priorities
  • Planning helps determine priorities (whether that be company, departmental or individual), but planning without a vision and we’re usually too tactical
  • Daily action aligned to vision and planning executes strategic outcomes. However, action without vision or a plan and it’s questionable as to whether we’re actioning the right priorities

Finally, disruption in industries is another reason for us to get thinking big, planning small and executing daily right. Technology seems to be enabling change at a rapid pace with different ways of doing business. (Think Uber with taxis or Airbnb with hotels). Unless we’re agile to move with the times then we run the risk of falling behind like Kodak and Nokia who were once market leaders in their respective industries.  

What can you do to get alignment, progress and outcomes from thinking big, planning small and actioning each day?