Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Output vs. outcome

I was having a debate with Julie O’Brian on what she called the “theory of action.” After I got through my initial shut-down to the word theory (more on that later), I heard an interesting concept.

The concept is how do our outputs lead to the outcome we are seeking? Are they tied together or is there a disconnect? What is the outcome we're seeking?

In everyday life we seem to be output focused, i.e. need to publish this report, develop Web content, make a presentation, etc. How often do we step back and say does this output really address the outcome we are hoping for our customers?

In 1999, I did an analysis of the barriers to innovation in the water supply community (riveting reading if you want a copy). In the study I classified barriers as: cultural, market, and regulatory. In addition I identified the lack of rewards for innovation, the disconnect between organizations involved in technology development, and the information explosion.

The barriers assessment set the stage for the KM program, where we're focusing on user friendly communication. If we continue to work on the outcome being innovation in the water supply community, the bariers assessment can help us design some future outputs.


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