importance-progress-matrix1I’ve recently been working with a client to review progress with the new strategy they developed last year. One of the most useful exercises we undertook was to use the Importance-Progress matrix attached.

It can be tempting to believe that, once the strategy and its related plans have been signed off, everything is of equal value. That’s not true. Some things are simply far more important than others.

The other major conclusion for my client was that it is tempting to try and do too many things and, in particular, it is too easy to incorporate projects into a plan that don’t add sufficient value. We fixed that issue through this exercise.

We reviewed each of the ongoing projects on two dimensions:

  1. Importance. For each project we gave it a score out of 10 based on its overall profit impact and its strategic importance (ability to develop important new capabilities, or take the company into new markets).
  2. Progress. Again, we scored each project out of 10 based on its performance against the milestones they developed a year or so ago.

We then mapped the projects on the matrix, allocating each project to one of four boxes:

  1. Drop. Several projects ended up here. These stalling, but relatively unimportant, projects had been a source of major frustration, but my client saw that they could be dropped (although we refined the objectives for a couple of them and merged them with other initiatives).
  2. Delegate. We realised that these projects weren’t as important as they first thought. Although progress had been made, and my client decided to let the projects run, they were taken off the monthly review of the business-wide strategy, and were overseen by departmental heads.
  3. Drive. These projects were making good progress and we identified areas where we could accelerate future progress.
  4. Deal with. These were the problem projects. We reviewed each of the projects in more detail, identified the underlying causes of the delays and developed refreshed action plans. In short, these initiatives were put on the critical list, and are now subject to weekly progress reviews until they start to hit their milestones regularly.

How is your strategy progressing, and which of your projects are getting in the way of your organisation’s success?

© Stuart Cross 2010. All rights reserved.