Big goals have at least three distinguishing features that set them apart from small goals: 1) they involve creating a change that shifts a culture forward, 2) they usually require several steps and 3) they do not happen over night.
Sometimes we treat big goals like leaps - destinations that we can arrive at if we merely have the big goal in mind, but this rarely works (perhaps you know this from experience).
There is a balance to be struck here to address this problem, one that allows for the learning, creativity, and forward progress required to actually achieve big goals—John Cutler, Amplitude’s Head of Product Research & Education, describes it succinctly: Think Big, Work Small.
Credit: John Cutler, https://twitter.com/johncutlefish/status/1353434551297576960
Thinking Big is about defining the mission and aligning a strategy to it. This is different from Defining Big, which involves applying rigid parameters that point to a specific and inflexible outcome -- an exercise that leaves no room for the uncertain and iterative nature of shipping work.
Working Small is about identifying small, achievable steps that might move the mission and strategy forward and endeavoring to do them efficiently. Small steps dismantle the paralysis that big and complex problems can create and allow for the iterative learning, creativity, and progress that leads to shipping better work. Aiming to perform small steps more efficiently is about routinely challenging a natural tendency to expand the work to fill the time allotted.
Making a change and shifting a culture can feel like a simple matter of leaping. In practice though, achieving these outcomes is the result of several 24-hour sprints of Working Small.
For more content from John Cutler, you can check out his blog here: https://cutle.fish/