Outcomes > Outputs

Choice 1Choice 2

Today, I want to challenge people to think differently about what they do every day.  It's not enough to just be busy.  That's called output.  I believe we need greater focus on outcomes.

Time is a resource that can't be saved. It can only be spent.  In the end, we're exchanging a limited resource for something of value. All things being even, in the table and graph above, we're asked to split our time between creating Choice 1 and Choice 2. If we spend all of our time creating Choice 1, we'll have no time available for Choice 2.  The graphical curve provides a visualization of what combinations are possible.  Anything to the left of the curve (red) is possible. Anything to the right of the curve (blue) is not possible. We have to decide.

The graph is something some may remember as a principal of economics; the Production Possibilities Curve.

An economy’s factors of production are scarce; they cannot produce an unlimited quantity of goods and services. A production possibilities curve is a graphical representation of the alternative combinations of goods and services an economy can produce. It illustrates the production possibilities model. In drawing the production possibilities curve, we shall assume that the economy can produce only two goods and that the quantities of factors of production and the technology available to the economy are fixed.
— University of Minnesota - Principles of Economics

You and your delivery team are the economy and you have to choose what you are going to work on, given you have limited time.  The choice above is unnecessarily complicated because it only focuses on output.  I challenge you to think about the contributions of the curve, leading with an outcome perspective. Given the economy is fixed, what choices would give you disproportionate value?  What outcome(s) provide the greatest benefit to your customers?

So, next time you prioritize your work, consider both the amount of time it takes to complete the work and value it will provide.