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Outputs vs Outcomes: Which is Best for Strategy?

When building a corporate strategy around disruption there is often the temptation to set goals aroun
Disruptors Handbook
Outputs vs Outcomes: Which is Best for Strategy?
By Disruptors Handbook • Issue #72 • View online
When building a corporate strategy around disruption there is often the temptation to set goals around avoiding loss of market share, or being resilient in the face of technological and social change. These are worthy and important outcomes for an organisation, but they are too conceptual to generate a business strategy.  
Strategy is certainly different from tactics, as tactics comprise the detail of achieving a specific objective, while strategy should set out a campaign for an organisation. But while strategy is broader than specific tactics, it is still designed around outputs rather than outcomes. 
This is why so many organisations fail to execute strategy effectively; outcome-driven concepts overshadow the actual plan that’s needed to drive the outputs that will impact outcomes. The vision of a firm needs to guide the mission just as the strategy needs to guide tactics.
Here’s how you might distinguish between aspects of corporate practice:
  • Vision - Values and future state of the organisation;
  • Mission - Purpose and measurable objectives (outcomes);
  • Strategy - Action driven campaign for execution of purpose (outputs);
  • Tactics - The specific tasks taken to generate the outputs.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with setting resilience and performance goals for a business. It’s just that these goals are not a strategy in and of themselves. They might help guide a strategy, but the strategy itself needs to set out what a company needs to do. So when it comes to a business vision and mission, be guided by the goals and outcomes you seek. When it comes to strategy, focus on outputs.

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