Outcome vs. Output: What’s the Difference?

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Outcome vs. Output: What’s the Difference?

A lot of people think that differences between outcome and output are all semantics. However, that is not the case, especially when it comes to management. The differences between these two concepts are night and day, and fundamentally change how a role like Product Management works.

1Understanding Outcomes and Outputs

To understand the difference between these two, you must first have a good understanding of their concepts. 

Outcome management can be distinguished as a client-centric approach. These often focus more on providing solutions to customer’s needs. It can either have a big or small impact. On the other hand, output management refers to an approach that assesses management performance with specific outputs. 

There is a close relationship between these two management approaches. Outputs are necessary to fund outcomes. But, if there is no outcome, there is no need for any outputs. 

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2Which Should be the Priority: Outcome or Output? 

Nowadays, many businesses are more focused on outputs than outcomes. However, this particular mindset is doing more harm than good. In fact, focusing on output-based performance has created undesirable results for other sectors. For example, it has made high-scoring students unable to put into actual use what they have learned in education. 

Another example is in the tech industry. There are plenty of apps (outputs) for mobile devices. Still, only a few are consistently used to improve the quality of one’s life. 

At the same time, outcomes are also not perfect. Here are some of the common problems encountered with an outcome-based approach in management: 

  • Orders from the Top

Not all ideas are from the production team. In some cases, these can be from the heads of the organization. As a result, the production team has to follow the outcomes that they desire, but these might not be applicable for real-life customers or fall short of expectations. 

  • Assumptions

Regardless of how smart you are and how long your experience is, every idea must be validated by legitimate customers. However, product teams usually depend on previous experiences and instincts. 

  • Speed Over Quality

In this fast phased world, many teams are willing to sacrifice doing deliberative research and careful decision-making just to make things quick. When they do this, they are mitigating their chances of achieving their desired goals. 

By the end of the day, there should be a good balance between the two approaches since they are highly interrelated with each other. 

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3How to Create Outcome-based Roadmaps? 

Most outcome-based roadmaps fail because of the problems mentioned above. This is why for them to work well together with outputs, here are some tips on how to create a successful outcome-based roadmap: 

  • Define the Right Outcomes

Defining outcomes is easier said than done, but it’s not an impossible feat. You can start by asking yourself, which outcome truly matters to your business and customers and why these things are important? 

Then you need to ensure that you are on the same page with your customers. Remember that even if you provide customers with their required outcome but fail to do it in the way they want, you won’t be able to give them a satisfactory customer experience. 

  • Make it a Collaborative Group Effort

The outcome-based approach requires collaborative efforts. If the decision-making is done by just a couple of people, there is a high chance a lot of factors will not be given weight or even ignored. Besides, additional perspective will provide new ideas and challenge pre-existing assumptions. Consider using a roadmap software to work collaboratively.

  • Expect Trial and Error

Roadmaps for outcome-based approaches require trial and error, so they shouldn’t be set in stone. Acknowledging that change will happen will help you become less afraid to remove things already written on your roadmap. This way, you can easily replace them with updated data that will increase your chances of reaching your goals. 

Final Words

Although they’re yet to be a specific tool and method to determine and measure outcomes, it does not mean that it should be completely disregarded. The should be a balance used of the outcome-based and output-based approach for the wellbeing of all stakeholders. 

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