Nicky Carew shares some thoughts about how, rather than outputs, it is the impact of outcomes on people that really matters.
The difference between outcomes and outputs and its impact on an organisation’s success is well documented:
- Outcomes are what we want to achieve such as impact or value. An appropriate measure of effectiveness or success.
- Outputs are what we have to do to get there, what we can count. This is not an appropriate measure of effectiveness or success.
So, for example, an output may be 200 sales calls per week. Sounds positive… But unless it arrives at the target outcome of £10,000 contracts it is a lot of noise and activity signifying nothing. An outcome would be profitable contracts resulting in happy customers and repeat business and recommendations.
So far, standard management textbook…
But it is important to consider what is forgotten.
If you are looking to the future, getting ahead of the curve for success in your business, then you have to look beyond the triple constraint of on time, on budget and to specification. All are output-focused and important in managing your project but limiting in sustainable success. In any change programme you can exceed your output targets and still fail.
If you want to be ahead of the curve, or performing better than average, your outputs will give you no idea how well you are doing.
Looking at the differences of outcomes and outputs.
So, what is forgotten when you compare outputs and outcomes?
Implicit by definition, outcomes have to involve people. I am sure there may be a business in isolation from needing customers or stakeholders but I can’t think of one. If a business is going to be successful it needs to focus on outcomes that benefit:
- Stakeholders – do we know who our stakeholders are and what influence they have?
- Customers – do we understand our customers’ needs?
- Employees – do our employees engage in what we are identifying as outcomes?
- Community – how will the community we serve respond to our offering?
Or it just won’t deliver – there are many stories of initiatives that sound fantastic, but failed because they didn’t understand the user and how they wanted to be supported.
Consequently at The Change Maker Group we worry about the thing that isn’t often talked about in the text books about outcomes and outputs. And that is how you involve the people that matter. Then it is a very good chance that you are focusing on outcomes not outputs. Our Change Leader Programme addresses this topic and much more. Please contact us to arrange a chat.
That will be critical in helping you keep ahead of the curve: