Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Outputs And Outcomes

In his book Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations, John Bryson talks about the importance of measuring outputs (how well you executed your strategy) and outcomes (the results your strategy achieved). Without measuring both, you'll never really know whether poor results were a product of the wrong strategy or just poor execution of that strategy.

With new business presentations, outputs and outcomes are important as well, but with a bit of a twist. I've coached myriad presentation teams who've stated, "these are the three concepts we want to communicate during our presentation," and they'll proceed to list them (output). After hearing that, I'll ask them to describe the three conclusions they'd like their prospective client to reach at the end of the presentation (outcome). Is there a difference you ask? Almost always.

The desired conclusions never quite match the key message points. In large part it's because we all tend to develop key message points in terms of competence, but we think of prospect conclusions in terms that cover competence and relationship issues. Per my last post, it's not just about who's better; it's about who's better to work with. Understanding the distinction and reframing your presentation in terms of both outputs and outcomes can mean the difference between winning and losing. An important distinction in this economy.

In my next post, I'll look at specific techniques for achieving the outcomes you want.


  1. Great thought, Leo. I find myself often too focused on the words and other details of a presentation, thus losing sight of the overall message. Thanks for this reminder.
    Keep up the great work!

  2. This is a really interesting topic. I'm looking forward to the posts that follow.
    - Jyotsana Saha



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