What do we mean by an outcome?

What do we mean by an outcome?

What do we mean by an outcome? -https://ift.tt/4WPyUdZ –


In high tech and IT , we often use terms without clearly defining what they are. Terms like value, performance, architecture, agile, among others migrate from having specific meanings to becoming generalized descriptions popularized in corporate PowerPoint decks to the point that they lose all meaning.

Consider the last presentation or email you say with the word agile in it – ‘this approach is the agile way to achieve X,Y,Z.’  Would anyone advocate an approach that was not agile?  I would stand up an applaud at a deck that recommended, “the old, slow, expensive and risky way.”  In this context agile and similar words become meaningless.

Outcome is fast becoming one of those words.  Everyone wants an outcome, products our outcome based, companies are outcome oriented, etc.  It’s a buzz word in tech for a very good reason – customers are tired of buying products or services – they want to buy outcomes. But what are outcomes?
A simple model of a business outcome
The dictionary defined an outcome as something that follows as a result or consequence of an action.  An outcome can be described as an action that creates a result.  This seems simple enough you do something and something changes – that’s the outcome.

Applied to a business context, a business outcome is a tangible difference in a company’s capabilities, or the performance of existing capabilities required to realize a business result. Outcomes are further defined by the types of actions and results they product, extending this simple model as shown below:


Outcomes do not happen on their own.  They are not just the result.  Actions need to be part of an outcome.  Actions make outcomes manageable. “Increasing revenues” is a result, but an incomplete outcome. “Increasing revenues by selling to new customers” is a manageable outcome.
Technology and Outcomes
Technology is essential in realizing business outcomes. Traditionally, high tech providers sold solutions with the implication of producing results. “You want ¾ inch holes, then buy this ¾ inch drill!”

For most of High Tech’s history, business buyers found themselves with few alternatives.  They had to buy the drill, figure out how to use it and use it enough to make a business case. Provider responsibilities ended when the drills were delivered, and people trained to use them.  This model of selling outcomes, but not delivering to them, was and is a non-starter for business buyers.

Businesses seek outcomes.  They use outcomes when making technology decisions.  The move to outcomes changes the nature of high tech.  High tech companies have noticed according to a Gartner Survey of Technology General Managers, 43% of General managers see buyers and customers changing their focus toward outcomes.

Realizing outcomes in modern business requires more than buying the promise of results. Success for high tech companies and their corporate customers requires concentrating on a complete understanding of an outcome – the actions not just the results.

Success requires having a clear, meaningful, and accessible definition of what we mean by an outcome. It is not enough to sell the result or sell the means to the result. It requires focusing on the combination of actions and results, a focus that changes the nature of business buyer expectations and the future of high tech.
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