117 Make Progress With the Progress Canvas…

Yes! And Blog #117

Help your team progress with the Progress Canvas…

“I never cry about what I don’t have. I’m always positive. I am happy with the team I have and I am confident that we can do well.” 

Fabio Capello, former England football coach and optimist

On the TV back in 2010, pundits were discussing what had to be done to enable England to win the World Cup, England having gone out in the second round (Round of Sixteen), losing to Germany 4 – 1. Eight years later, having achieved the semi finals, it seems England have made  progress. How might England have achieved that progress?

In my work, I use a tool called the Progress Canvas with teams. This is based on one known as the Strategy Canvas (see here for original article). The Progress Canvas provides a simple way for teams to describe the future they want, make progress towards it and monitor how they are doing.

You use the tool in steps:

Step 1: Detail a preferred future by asking, “What would we, our customers and other stakeholders notice when we are successful?” I like to have teams draw a picture and then document  this, but there are many alternatives.

Step 2: Identify the five to six areas your customers / stakeholders would say you must focus  on to achieve success:

  • Discuss if these focus areas really are critical to success and whether collectively they will enable you to achieve success
  • Avoid having more than 5 – 6 focus areas, otherwise they are unlikely to be focus areas.

Step 3: On a scale of 1 – 10, for each focus area, describe how customers / stakeholders would know that you are at “10”.

Step 4: As a group, identify where customers / stakeholders would rate you today on each scale and plot them on a chart

Step 5: Discuss and record what has enabled you to reach this score on each CSF:

  • Note that people will often discuss what is stopping you move to “10”. Remind them of the question

Step 6: Consider the actions to take to push the team  ONE STEP up the scale.

  • Why only one step? Teams often fail because they develop huge action lists that do not get actioned and morale drops. Set small actions, monitor progress, set more actions.
  • If you want to identify a high level direction you can storyboard it.


What you have now is a simple chart that you can use to:

  • Discuss with staff at lower levels (and perhaps have them develop their own chart for their own objectives)
  • Measure your progress by reviewing the chart at team meetings

Regular readers will notice Solutions Focussed (SF) tools in these steps (Future Perfect, Scaling, Counters, Small Actions. click here to download an article to explain these). In essence, this is a SF approach to make progress, focussing on what clients would sense in your future and how to achieve this. The alternative is to take a problem focussed approach that leads to a lot of internal focus on what is happening now and how to move away from it.

To Close

I was working in Ghana on the Monday after the 2010 World Cup quarter final they lost controversially to Uruguay, (in the last minute a player stopped a certain goal using his hands). In the taxi en route to my course (a 75 minute drive across town), I listened to endless discussions about the match, most of which were very supportive about Ghana and the long-term future of football in Africa. I was amazed though that some people criticised the team and the manager, a team that progressed further than many top European teams and lost only on penalties.

It seems for some, the area to focus on in football is what the team are doing wrong; something we have been very good at in England too. Instead of blaming everyone, what if we took a Solutions Focused approach to improving the success of the England football team? Might we saw more progress… to the Final?

John Brooker I The Solution Focus Facilitator

Read: www.yesand.eu

Call: +44 (0)2 08 8869 9990

1 I first saw the Solution Focused Strategy Canvas in an article: “Solution Focused Strategy Canvassing: An Approach To Enabling Collective Effort In Making Strategy Happen

by Adie Shariff and Alison Abington of Ashridge Management College. You can find the original here, please scroll down the page. I have adapted their work.