How will you know that you’re making progress?

Whilst on holiday recently, I was reminding of the importance of being able to tell that you’re making progress. If you’re on top of a fell, how do you know that you’re following your route rather than having a bit of an aimless wander? More seriously, if it’s foggy and visibility is poor, how do you ensure you don’t walk off the edge of a crag?

This is where the map comes in. Ideally, you’ve planned your route and have been checking against the map as you go. Looking around you, you compare what’s on the ground with the map and confirm your position: there’s a small copse on your right, a wall to your left which the footpath follows. A little later on, you check again. What should you be able to see if you are where you think you are? On a 1:25000 map, there’s a lot of detail so you’re going to be able to check your position frequently. You estimate it’s going to take you 15 minutes to get to that stream: if you’re not there after 20 minutes, you need to stop and re-evaluate your surroundings. It’s not just a question of looking at the start of your walk and the end of your walk – you need to pay attention to all the stages in between.

These principles can be applied to any project on which we’re working. We need to keep the destination in mind but by breaking the journey into stages, we can keep an eye on our progress, ensuring we don’t wander off track. One way I’ve done this is to take a big sheet of paper, write my destination on the right-hand side of the sheet and then break out the Post-Its (other sticky note products are available!). I use big Post-Its for the milestones – ‘first stage testing by representatives from each team’; ‘training sessions’; ‘general release’ – then smaller ones for each task needed to reach a particular milestone. Through doing this, I can make sure we don’t miss anything, we can check we can handle each task, and order them accordingly. We can move the tasks around easily, see what happens if we remove one completely, or the impact of adding another task to a milestone. We can allocate a period of time in which to complete this milestone and review our progress at the end of that time. This process keeps us all aware of where we are, where we’ve been and where we’re going.

So that’s what works for me.

Today’s pebble for you to think about is this:

How will you know that you’re making progress?

What do you think?


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?

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