Once you set a goal and you make a plan,
Process Milestones are periodic check-in dates in which you look at your Action Plan to see if all of the action steps are being followed. You can track these in various ways and even use a tool like Microsoft Project if you have a complicated Action Plan with lots of moving parts.
Impact Milestones are periodic check-ins in which you look at the results that your Action Plan is producing to see if you are on track with what you are expecting the plan to produce. So, it is important to ask yourself – once you set a plan – “what kinds of results should we be seeing x, y, and z weeks/months out if the plan is working as we want it to?”
When you do a Process Milestone check-in and discover that someone has not completed their tasks properly then you need to investigate and put in a fix. Maybe it was a simple oversight and can be corrected or maybe someone is overwhelmed and you need to reassign duties. Regardless, you may need to alter your plan slightly to get back on track. FYI – it is important to schedule these check-ins regularly so your plan does go way off track without realizing it.
However, if you are following your plan just as you had scheduled and you are missing your Impact Milestones – not producing the results you want – THEN you have a problem of a different kind. When people do not set Impact Measures they are often surprised that everyone followed the plan but – in the end – the results they wanted were not produced. You should know this much sooner!
What do you do when you miss an Impact Milestone? You need to investigate carefully. You made certain assumptions about your plan when you set these milestones. Are, perhaps, some of your assumptions incorrect? If so, then maybe you need to call a “timeout” and make a totally new plan.
So often, leaders live in denial after crafting a wonderful plan (mostly their ideas) and it is not working. Without Impact Milestones, you will not know until it is too late. If you want to make a Mission Impact then you need Process and Impact Milestones to stay on track.