Focusing Your Team on Outcomes

It’s not enough for one person on your L&D team to be outcome-focused. If everyone on the team is not outcome focused, the team will be disjointed, with some members focused only on producing outputs and completing tasks – becoming a training machine of sorts without any real value add. For a team to really add value to the organization, it’s important that everyone is outcome focused. So what can you, as a team leader, do to help the team?

Make sure they understand what you mean by 'outcome'. Define it and explain it. Here's an article that may help: Outcomes and Becoming Outcome Focused

Relate everything back to the outcome. Every task, every deliverable, every activity – keep on talking about how it relates (or doesn’t) to the outcome. Is it contributing to the outcome or hindering a clear path to the outcome?

Don't be afraid to pivot when situations change. Lead by example and show your team that achieving the outcome is the goal, not completing tasks no matter what. If a piece of work must change or be discarded because it no longer relates to the outcome, then do it immediately.

Run experiments. A benefit of an outcome focus is that you can experiment. Run A/B testing on different approaches. Create minimum viable products (MVPs) to test how they will be received and how effective they are. When your team is actively trying new things, they will start to think less in terms of outputs and deliverables and more in terms of outcomes and impact.

Brief team members on the work by focusing on the outcome, not the task. When you bring a person into a project, let them know what the outcome is. Set expectations about experimentation, pivoting, and adapting.

Choose vendors with an outcome focus and brief them in terms of outcomes. Vendors interact with your team and stakeholders. If they’re not focused on outcomes, there will be a discrepancy between them and your team. Don’t let any third parties bring your team back to task-blindness.

Work out what the outcomes are together. Don't dictate outcomes – involve your team in the discovery process. Teach them how to run discovery workshops and interview stakeholders. Bring in members of your team to look at discovery data to help figure out what the outcomes are.

Document outcomes. Reference them in your project management software and your project documents. Make sure they are easy to find for both your team and your stakeholders.

Constantly ask: “is this helping us achieve our outcome?” This is like asking “Is this useful?” If you’re constantly asking the question, it will help the team to stay focused, and if they know to expect it, they won’t feel like you’re questioning their work.

Encourage your team to question you and each other. Everyone on the team should be encouraged to ask, “is this helping us achieve our desired outcomes?” Don't discourage them from speaking up – the more the team asks, the more you’ll be able to refocus on the outcomes.

Give autonomy and freedom for your team to come up with their own solutions. The more experience they get from solving problems and thinking about the end goal, the more innovative they’ll be in creating solutions and opportunities in the future.

Hire new people who already have an outcome focus. Bringing in someone new with an outcome focus can be a tremendous help. Their mindset will start to influence their teammates. They'll ask intelligent questions about outcomes in the team meetings.

By influencing and encouraging an outcome-focused mindset, you’ll lead a team who speaks the same language, focuses on business goals, and solves problems and discovers opportunities to be innovative.

Blog thumbnail photo by Jason Goodman

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An outcome is the change in the organization, employees, or customers that drives business results.
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