Why should you focus on outcome, not output?
And how to do it.
A quick note: Starting this week, I’ll be reducing my posts to 1 per week, on a Monday; the Thursday posts will stop. I don’t want to flood you with too much content - but also, I’m starting a product training course soon, and I’ll need a bit more time for that.
As for the training course, I’ve got a first task where I need to ask around for ideas. Please read to the end for more details. Thank you! Now, on with this week’s post…
Focusing on outcome, not output
An important part of product management is understanding the difference between output and outcome. Here’s a definition:
An output describes the result of an activity a company carries out, but which does not have a measurable impact on its customers. An outcome is the actual added value that results from the output for the target group.
Source: Workpath – https://www.workpath.com/magazine/output-vs-outcome
If we are focused on how many stories we are delivering but not what the stories are, that’s a sign there is too much focus on output.
It doesn’t matter how many stories a team delivers if none of them provide value to the customer.
Changing the focus from output towards outcome is a fundamental shift, and requires you to look at the goal of every story.
The user story statement
A good starting point is the user story statement. The format is as follows:
As a <type of user>
I want to <be able to do something>
So I can <benefit in some way>.
This gives us a clear indication of who we are building for, what they want to do, and why they want to do it.
The why is the key. Instead of asking teams to build a specific piece of functionality, we are helping them to understand the outcome. The team can then think about how to achieve that outcome.
Here are a couple of examples:
As a sales manager
I want to see the appointments for engineers
So I can understand how much capacity we have available.
As a field service engineer
I want to see my appointments
So I know where I need to be, and when.
Try it and see if it makes sense.
Help wanted: What problems do you face?
As I mentioned at the start of this week’s post, I’m starting a product training course soon (Prod MBA).
To prepare for the course, I’m creating a list of ideas that I can develop into products on the course. I need more ideas than I’ll actually use - some will work better than others.
I would love to hear about what problems you face in your day to day life. It can be at work, at home, or anything in between. Things you struggle with that nobody has a good solution for. Don’t worry about what the solution might be - just tell me the problems. Reply to this email if you can think of anything.
Thanks for reading - I’ll see you next Monday.