Why We Focus On Outcomes

We talk a lot about outcomes at Barrel.

The outcomes our clients want to achieve as a business and as a brand.

The outcomes we want to achieve together as a team.

The outcomes we want to achieve as an agency.

In this context, an outcome is the desired result of our efforts. When we're scoping new business or kicking off new initiatives, it's easy to forget about outcomes as we attempt to map out the "perfect" process. We become consumed in WHAT we're doing without considering the WHY. An outcome is the WHY.

When we go down this path, we start making decisions based on personal preferences and risk missing our target. We become task-masters, thinking that if we can just get the task done right, we'll be good.

An outcome is:

  • Client: To increase the average order value (AOV) of a client's commerce website.
  • Team: To create an environment where feedback is welcomed and wanted.
  • Agency: To attract X number of qualified leads per week.

An outcome is not:

  • Client: To organize a UX immersion workshop.
  • Team: To invite a feedback expert in for a workshop with the team.
  • Agency: To launch a beautifully designed landing page on the agency's website.

Why Outcomes?

There are a number of benefits to focusing on outcomes. Let's take a look at a few I've experienced.

Promotes learning

Consider a person looking to get fit and healthy. If they choose to hire a personal trainer, they don’t do it because of the nuances of their programming. If during the sales process, that's all the trainer talks about, the potential trainee may appreciate the trainer's enthusiasm for fitness but wonder if they can actually help them. In contrast, if the trainer gets curious about the trainee's outcomes and shares how they've achieved similar results with others, the trainee is bound to hire them.

By focusing on the trainee's outcomes, the trainer may also find that their typical process may need to evolve. Perhaps the trainee has a background lifting weights and won't need the same basic training upfront. By re-thinking their process, they'll not only learn something new, but they'll get better results.

Outcomes push us to look beyond ourselves. When we take the time to understand an outcome, we're forced to seek out new perspectives and question what we know. The more we focus on outcomes, the more we re-think old beliefs, and the more we learn.

Invites innovation & experimentation

The beauty of outcomes is that they anchor us on a future result, not the path to get there. Outcomes give us the permission to experiment. Sure, we may have a proven process or set of best practices but if along the way, we face an unforeseen challenge, we'll be ready to pivot.

Let's take the example mentioned above. Let's say that as an agency, we're looking to amplify qualified leads coming in each week. We do our research and discover a landing page template that has generated results for other agencies. Within a week, we design and launch a new landing page that speaks to our positioning.

Over the next few weeks, we see some uptick in qualified leads but not at all what we were hoping for. We don't give up. We don't change the copy and hope for the best. We realign on our outcome. We dig into what it means to be "qualified" and discover that there's a gap in understanding where clients see the most value in our partnerships.

We decide that interviewing key clients and getting their take on the landing page may generate helpful feedback. These insights inspire us to test multiple landing pages and target new type of potential clients. In the process, we go deeper on the services that our clients find most valuable. We not only end up generating new qualified leads but grow existing accounts along the way.

Encourages ownership

There's an innate sense of ownership that comes with centering ourselves on outcomes. As a manager, I see this every day.

There have been times where I lay out a process that I think will achieve a result. I anchor the team on what needs to happen at every step and how to move the process along. The trouble with this approach is that the team is more concerned about doing WHAT I asked them to do, not WHY they're doing it. When they hit a roadblock, they're lost, looking for the user manual on how to troubleshoot the issue. Well, unfortunately, the manual doesn't exist!

By shifting the team's focus from the process to the outcome, the team can take ownership of the work. They're no longer trying to get it "right," they're working together to achieve results. They're not only encouraged to experiment and innovate, but they understand how their efforts align with a greater purpose. This ignites a hunger to find the opportunity in setbacks and a passion to see the project through, no matter how the journey unfolds.