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Big Idea Resources - Developing an Action Plan

Page history last edited by samuel olson 10 years, 3 months ago

Developing an Action Plan

Taking your vision from a "big idea" to a big success

 Summary: This section will walk you through the steps for developing an action plan to implement your Big Idea.


Step One: Create Goals


Goals function as a kind of thesis statement for the action plan. They explain exactly what the intended tasks will be in order to fulfill the mission. Keep in mind that effective goals are action oriented, clear (who, what, where, by when), and are related directly to the problem that your Big Idea solves.


You want your goals to be SMART:

S  -- specific

M -- measurable

A -- achievable

R -- realistic

T -- time-bound


Action: Spend a few minutes brainstorming 1-3 SMART goals for your Big Idea.  If you haven’t gone through Brainstorming a Shared Vision, you might find it helpful for coming up with goals for your Big Idea.


Step Two: Construct Action Steps


Action steps are realistic written plans.  They are as simple as a sequential list of actions that will fulfill your goals in service to your Big Idea.



To develop action steps for your Goals it might be helpful to think through these four things:


Need has to do more with solutions to the issues or challenges that your Big Idea raise. 

Ask yourself: “What needs to happen to effectively address this issue?”


Constraints are those factors that are keeping you from addressing the challenge. They might include lack of time, money, education about the issue, volunteers, etc.

Brainstorm a list of possible restrictions that you are aware of.


Resources Available are those resources that are easily and readily available and accessible right now to address the issue.

So, what are your available resources?


Resources Needed are those resources that are not easily and readily available and accessible right now to address the challenge.

So, what resources do you need?



Think to the goals of your Big Idea. Try to break them down to more manageable pieces. 

First, think to the end of the next year: What will need to have happened by then to call your Big Idea a success?  Brainstorm this with your group (You may have done something like this in the section: Motivating a Team). 


Second, break down that big picture into specific action steps. 

What will need to have happened six months from now so that you will be on track to reach your goals? 

What key steps and deadlines will you have to meet to implement your Big Idea?


Third, make it happen.  Determine:

1) Who will be responsible for coordinating or carrying out the action? 

2) A time by which that action should occur.

3) The intended outcome of the action.


Step Three: Manage by Calendar


Manage by calendar is a great technique for managing your time and project.  It allows the calendar and time you have available to be used as a backbone for organizing and driving how you spend your time. Used consistently, managing by calendar gives the project manager and team a tool for sorting out competing and complex work assignments and prioritizing work.



These are the simple steps of making your goals a reality by managing your calendar:

1) Make a goal.

2) Assign a date or checkpoint to the goal (even if arbitrary).

3) Determine steps or components that lead towards the goal.

4) Using a calendar, assign critical steps first.

5) Assign the remaining steps dates/times.

6) Sort out conflicting/competing demands.

7) Adjust plan so it fits together.


Of course, steps 4-7 don’t always occur in the neat order above.  Here’s an example, say you wanted to host a party.  Your action list might look something like this.


Even large goals can be Managed by Calendar. Break the big goal into parts, then go about planning ways to meet the sub-goals. This process makes meeting ambitious, daunting goals much more doable.


Use the following expanded steps to manage your Big Idea by your calendar.

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