Organisations are, and have always been, vehicles for human collaboration. However, the way that we collaborate has changed. Our organisations today consist of knowledgeable individuals who can add value beyond their job description if they understand the outcome the organisation is aiming for (the ‘why’).
We also have more opportunities than we know what to do with. David Packard said: “More businesses die from indigestion than starvation”. As information and insights become more accessible, this statement becomes even more valid. In a world where time and effort are precious, our goal management methodology should guide us towards the things that will positively impact the business.
So how do we ensure we don’t become more “busy” but rather achieve more? By focusing on outcomes, not output.
Here are five major motivations behind outcomes-based goal management:
- It creates focus on the elements that add value
- It increases employee engagement
- It encourages innovation from more stakeholders
- It enables scalability through empowerment
- It drives agility in responses
1. For FOCUS
In our time, where attention spans are short, distractions abound, and ideas are cheap, we need to create a ‘focus’ competency. We need to grow our ability to home in on a few things, say “yes” to some and “no” to everything else. The critical question is, how do we compare opportunities to know where to focus? When using outcomes to compare opportunities, we gauge the impact or result on the business. And then, we can start looking at the input or output required to get to this outcome.
2. For ENGAGEMENT
Creating accountability at an outcomes-level drives workforce engagement and efficiency. It clarifies intention, which increases buy-in. It’s the opposite of micromanagement. And micromanagement is a child of the previous era – it decreases morale and productivity. When we have a say in the direction taken, we are more engaged and more efficient.
“Don’t tell people what to do; tell them what you need accomplished, and you’ll be amazed at the results.”
– General George Patton
3. For INNOVATION
When agreeing on outcomes, you create an opportunity for the individuals working on the solution to develop the best ideas. It’s not a factory supervisor telling workers what to do; it’s now front-line workers who engage with the problems every day generating solutions. By agreeing on an outcome (e.g. profitability per unit of x%) as opposed to an output (e.g. y units produced per hour), we are putting power into the hands of all stakeholders, encouraging collaboration and driving innovation to the edges of the organisation.
4. For SCALABILITY
Scaling isn’t possible when one person makes all the calls. If scaling is a goal, you need to create systems for distributed leadership and decentralised decision-making. It’s easy to say but hard to do. How do I give away control? How can I trust people to make the right calls? The first step is to communicate intent – what is the intended outcome, what are we aiming for? And what’s my intention behind giving you this responsibility – is it for your growth or my portfolio? Once the answers to these questions are clear, trust increases. With trust comes vulnerability, psychological safety, and increased communication. And it’s easier to relinquish control when you know concerns will be raised timeously.
5. For AGILITY
In his video explaining mission command, Colonel Eric Lopez says this management method is all about speed. He describes it in the context of the US Military, but we can apply the same to organisational management. The commanding officers issue intents, not orders, and empower initiatives as opposed to ensuring compliance. Note the role of the leader – they still have a role to play in issuing an intent (an outcome that the organisation is striving for) and in enabling their workforce (more on that later). Decisions are made on the ground because the intent is clear (i.e. decentralised decision-making). The outcome doesn’t change; how we get to that outcome might well have to change in the face of changing circumstances.
The way we collaborate within organisations has changed. An organisation is a complex network of relationships. Relationships can’t be mechanically managed with tickboxes and tasks; they need to be organically developed through conversations and collaboration. Outcomes-based goal management is a critical part of this shift from mechanic to organic.
The shift to outcomes-based management is not easy. It’s essential to ensure that expectations are aligned, that managers show care for employees, that trust is prioritised and that an environment of risk-taking is fostered.
To find out more about outcomes-based goal management, and how to create an outcomes-based environment, download this guide: