Big Rocks

A 'big rock' is a medium-term goal we want to achieve in the coming few months that will be a major positive improvement in the business.

It's too easy to get pulled into running round the hamster wheel of finding and serving clients and doing the day-to- day admin. Important things get pushed down the priority list in favour of urgent things.

Stephen Covey (author of the '7 Habits of Highly Effective People') has a metaphor in which he talks about fitting in the ‘big rocks’ first, then you can pour the pebbles and sand around them — whereas if you put in the sand and pebbles first you can't fit in the big rocks.

In the same way, we want to identify 3-5 big things that will help our business take a leap forward over the next three months.

How to define a Big Rock?

To be useful it's important that we define and write big rocks well. A rough guide is that Big Rocks should be:

  • Focused on an outcome, rather than an activity or output

  • Directed towards achieving our Purpose & Ambitions

  • Aligned with our points of Focus

  • Supporting our values, motivations

  • A significant and worthwhile improvement in our business

  • Within our power

  • Potentially achievable within three months

  • Written without specifying how the outcome might be achieved

A Big Rock is a bit like an Epic in an agile project.


Here are some examples of badly-defined Big Rocks:

  • "Improve public sector procurement": this isn't directly within our power.

  • "Write a page about Big Rocks in the cookbook": this is an activity rather than an outcome, and is achievable by one person within less than a day. It's not a significant enough improvement in the business.

  • "Launch Convivio in 5 other countries": this isn't achievable within three months, and it's not directed towards our purpose and ambitions

Here are some examples of well-defined Big Rocks (these might change as we learn how to best write them):

  • "Launch our new branding"

  • "Introduce a fair and transparent way to set pay and pay rises"

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