Think Plan and Act

Think plan act, problem solving needs all three.

In business as in life, we need to think, plan and act in order to achieve more. As a Business Coach and action learning facilitator, I often see individuals struggling to complete the 3 necessary steps.

It’s not enough to just think about a problem that you need to fix; you need to create a plan after fully understanding the problem. Then you are ready to act. But how often do we see plans not implemented either at all or only half-heartedly?


On earlier posts, I’ve discussed approaches to problem-solving, which begins with thinking. In thinking about an issue, we seek to define and challenge it. This requires analysis. That analysis can often be undertaken alone or in small groups with a focus on definition and questioning. At this stage we’re not trying to solve the problem, but to understand its reach and nature.

Think is the necessary first step to avoid missing critical parts of the issue. These can arise from our own pre-conceptions and prejudices, so we need to be objective.


Planning is about the solution and equally important its implementation in the context of your organisation. Planning identifies the best solution given the constraints and realities of your unique situation. There is never just one possible plan; but we need to chose the one which is most actionable with the available resources to achieve the desired aims.

A key to good planning is to think small. Grand strategies fail because of small detail. Lots of time and effort goes into creating massive annual business plans that nobody then reads, let alone actions. A plan is a smaller part of a big strategy. Being small it is easier to understand and be shorter to achieve the necessary outcomes/successes.


Failure to act on a plan demonstrates the waste of time taken to achieve the plan, but is surprisingly common. Action needs the 5 attributes of METAL:

  • Motivation. Consider how the plan will motivate individuals and who they are. The how and the who gives people the why that enables action.
  • Energy. It is a truism that energetic individuals inspire others to act. Energy is also understood as excitement. What is truly exciting about this plan for individuals inside and outside the organisation? How does it add to the organisation’s mission or employees’ livelihoods?
  • Timing. Consider whether today is the best day to launch. Will all the key players be available to brief and agree their roles? Or is it year end or peak holiday season? Conversely launching in 2 months’ time is often too late. The momentum of planning is lost as new issues arise that set the plan off-course.
  • Accountability. Be clear on who is accountable for what by when. If a critical gateway needs to be achieved; then make sure all deliver on time by engaging early. It is very rare that a plan survives unaltered; accountability and discussion ensure it’s delivered.
  • Leadership. This is both about buy-in from the formal leaders in the organisation and the behaviours of the project managers. Plans face obstacles. These are overcome in part from efficient identification and management. But more useful is leadership and ownership of the execution. This builds trust and the ability of others to believe that this will resolve the problem.

Think Plan and Act

There is no point wasting time on thinking about problems and planning their resolution, if you are not prepared to act. Acting creates a positive power, which requires METAL to be effective.