Driving outcomes vs. driving things to do is key to productivity and fulfilling goals and vision. Take a walk into the kitchen of the average household and you are likely to see a list of some sort pinned onto the fridge. What you will not see on those lists are what the outcome will be if all the items are purchased. For example, imagine that the list contains ingredients to a certain dish. Picking up those items is only the beginning of the process, but it means little if they aren’t put together to create the final piece. What you are basically then left with is a bunch of food that might eventually spoil and never be used, or perhaps thrown into another recipe that isn’t quite as good as the initial one. It’s similar to buying a top of the line toolbox, with no real project in mind. The toolbox may look fantastic in your workspace, but you don’t get results if you fail to use the tools that you have. This is where the discussion of driving outcomes vs. driving things to do really begins.
It’s not just individuals who fall into this trap, as businesses tend to do the exact same thing. They might come up with a list of goals and objectives for the year ahead, all with the goal of making sure that everyone in the organization stays busy. That’s great, but if there is no bigger picture, employees quickly become disillusioned, as they don’t really understand what effect their efforts are having on the organization as a whole. Driving outcomes vs. things to do is where management actually sits down and creates a list of actions that will result in a desired outcome. Everyone is still kept busy, but they are all on the same page and know exactly where the company is headed.
Adopting a philosophy of driving outcomes vs. driving things to do often means changing the way in which people think about their job. Too much time is spent looking back at past mistakes, as opposed to forward thinking planning that addresses the long term goals and objectives of the company. Imagine trying to drive forward in a straight line with your eyes firmly locked on the rearview mirror and you’ll get an idea as to why companies that live on past performances tend to fail when trying to progress.
The driving analogy is one that is actually quite fitting when you compare it to the way in which businesses operate. It’s the role of the manager to act as the lead driver of a convoy of vehicles, as he is the one that has the clear directions of where the company is headed. If he fails to properly convey those directions to the people that are following, they will become lost by minor distraction such as stop lights, roadside attractions, or minor emergencies that cause them to pull over. When that happens, confusion reigns and everyone becomes lost.
In that analogy, you can see why driving outcomes vs. driving things to do become so important. You can tell employees to follow you, but without clear, concise direction, they will become distracted and lose their way. Much like putting a GPS in the car with the directions loaded, companies are now using web-based applications like Objectiveli as a GPS of sorts. This is an application that everyone can access at any given time, just to be sure that they are still on the right road.