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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 22-Jan-17


Sunday 15-January-17

Outputs, Outcomes and Success in Work and Life

A common concern in businesses is to be efficient, doing only things that add value. This leads to a concern for process, where every step is explicitly defined and then refined in order to create the perfect output, every time. Specifications for deliverables are drawn up and quality assessed as 'conformance to specification', with precise test metrics as proof.

While this is perfect for some processes, many activities do not easily succumb to analysis. Yet the allure of easy perfection and lower costs has led to such methods being used in inappropriate places and ways. Anything to do with changing minds is a classic example and perhaps none more so than in teaching. In the past 20 years, schools have taken to business methods as a way to get better and consistent results, yet 'teaching to the test' is a long way from real education.

Rather than look at short-term outputs, a better consideration of real success is to consider longer-term outcomes. For businesses, this includes measures such as customer loyalty, where customers keep coming back for more and recommend you to their friends. In high school teaching a useful outcome measure might be success at university or even happiness in later life.

To work at the outcome level, rather than think 'does the product conform to specifications', look further down the line and ask questions such as 'How will they use what we delivered?' and 'What is the total value over time'. Of course customers will be happy when you deliver the goods, but their initial happiness has more to do with novelty and gratitude than an appreciation of lifetime benefits.

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