Business Idioms 2: Progress I

Time-lapse photo of cars going around a traffic circle at night
Project progress

This lesson will focus on using a variety of expressions specifically related to the progress of a project.


This lesson will help you use these idioms describing project progress. You will also get a chance to talk about your own experiences.

Warm Up: 

Can you think of a project that didn't go as planned? What happened?


Please consider each expression and match them to the images. Your instructor has an example and a question regarding each one. 

  1. (it’s) back to the drawing board—back to the beginning of a process to start it again because it isn't working.
  2. make headway—make progress.
  3. (it’s) full speed ahead—moving with the greatest speed or energy.
  4. the ball's in (the client’s) court—if the ball is in someone's court, they have to do something before any progress can be made.
  5. cut corners—do something in a hasty or careless way so as to save time or money.
A. B.
C. D.



A. Complete the anecdote

Read each section and choose an appropriate idiom from the list above.

  1. After doing some surveys, it turns out this hypothesis is a complete failure, so...
  2. The project manager was inexperienced, so no progress was being made at all. When the project manager was finally replaced with a more experienced person, the project quickly began to...
  3. For the last week, we've been preparing while we waited for approval from the client. The team leader just received the go-ahead, so now...
  4. It's not Daniel's fault the deal isn't finished. He made the last offer, so...
  5. In business, aggressively saving money by lowering the quality of your fundamentals is not always a good idea. Over time, it may actually cost more money. So, in other words, don't... 

B. Discussion

Use idioms to discuss the following topics.

  1. Describe a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
  2. Do you ever feel frustrated because a project is not going according to plan?
  3. What are the major obstacles to progress during a project? 



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