20 Tips for Successful Strategy Implementation: Part III – Tracking and Managing Progress

Posted by on Jun 20, 2011

Phase III – Tracking and Managing Progress

This is the third in a series of four posts describing 20 effective practices to help you accelerate the implementation of your strategy.

In the first few months of implementation changing environmental conditions, planning oversights and implementation mistakes may begin to compromise your success. Staying on track in the early going requires more focus on action and troubleshooting than on results These five tips will help you get the most from your strategy during this phase.

11. Focus initially on progress against action milestones

Results are important, but they aren’t usually apparent during the first months of implementation. Get a head-start on managing your progress during this early period by tracking completion of action milestones. Action may be only an input, but until you have measurable results, you’ve got to track it. Don’t risk losing precious time by waiting for results to become apparent.

12. Assign responsibility for reporting and tracking progress

Unless you are certain you’ll make the time to do it yourself, delegate a “progress tracker” to produce a weekly report showing your progress on completion of action milestones. Make sure your direct reports know that the tracker is acting with your authority when he/she requests a progress update. You’ll be amazed at how progress accelerates when people’s individual efforts (or lack thereof) become public knowledge.

13. Keep plans and milestones up-to-date

As implementation proceeds, people are certain to find gaps, oversights and just plain muddy thinking in their initial implementation plans! Have the implementation teams fix these errors. Make sure your weekly strategy progress report tracks progress against these new milestones, not out-of-date ones. Your “progress tracker” can keep the milestones up-to-date with information supplied by the leaders responsible for each initiative.

14. Ask how it’s going and offer help

If progress reports show someone is falling behind their implementation time-line, don’t keep sending your “progress tracker” back for more bad news. Visit laggards personally. Find out why they’ve fallen behind and offer help with problem-solving, freeing up resources, even bringing in outside help, if necessary.

Show genuine interest and support early and often, and don’t expect the impossible. This will keep your strategy on track and avoid putting your staff on the defensive. However, if you know your expectations are realistic and your help isn’t working, don’t risk the success of your strategy by delaying corrective action.

15. Report progress frequently to employees

While toiling away in the engine room, people often lose sight of their strategy. Make sure you regularly summarize progress for everyone. This will keep them focused on the strategy and assure them that you haven’t changed direction. In your updates, focus on the aspects of the strategy that affect them most directly, including the help you need from them. Refer back to tips 1 and 2.

Next week – 5 tips on Evaluating Progress and Making Adjustments

© 2011 Knowlan Consulting Group Inc.



  1. I like your point, Rick, about talking to a person directly if their status is not “green.” So often, reporting on projects can turn into a kind of witch hunt rather than as an opportunity to find out what the core reasons and to brainstorm ways to get the project back on track.

    • Thanks, Darren. It helps to take the idea of “leader as coach” seriously. I have been interviewing leaders inquiring about the best boss they’ve ever worked for. Several have said great bosses use performance shortfalls as problem solving and coaching opportunities.