We spend a fair amount of time talking with our clients and the leaders we work with about “desired outcomes” -- the first step in planning any kind of communication.
When we ask, “What’s the outcome you seek?” we often get a communications goal (that’s helpful to know but communications should never be an outcome; it’s a means to achieving a business outcome). When we follow-up: “What’s the business outcome you seek?” we often get puzzled looks from some.
That said, I thought it would be valuable to define the concept of an outcome given its importance. The better we can define what we need to accomplish, the better the chance we will succeed at achieving it. After all, if we don’t know where we’re going, how will we get there? And, as was the case in Alice in Wonderland, “any road can get you there.”
An outcome is an observable end result, a consequence, a change in business performance, something that follows from an action.
When we ask about a desired outcome, we want a business objective. That is, a measurable result like widgets sold, customers served, share of market, or people in seats. This kind of outcome is a consequence of action by teams and individuals whose goal is to deliver on the business objective.
Another way to look at this: if what you want to communicate isn’t about moving the business forward, it’s important to think long and hard about whether you should be communicating at all.
There might be other outcomes you want to achieve that are secondary and might be less measurable but still important: build a critical relationship inside an organization, get a seat at the table, or get promoted.
Like any activity that is focused on getting results, communication needs to be based on a clear goal or “desired outcome” to be effective. It’s worth the time and thought to create a solid first step that will be the foundation of any successful communication.
What’s the business outcome you seek?
- David Grossman
Want more communication tips? Get more on defining the outcome and several other steps in our latest ebook, The Courageous Communicator Quest. Download today!