When starting an initiative, it is important to focus on the desired outcome before jumping to solutions. A simple first step towards becoming an outcome-focused organisation is to change how you define initiatives. Many companies define initiatives in an output- or idea-centric manner, where the focus is on the specific desired scope. This can lead to confusion around why we're actually tackling an initiative. It also limits us to only think about the suggested idea, rather than alternatives. Better and simpler ideas are often waiting to be found.

Output-centric initiative

At most organisations, initiative briefs start with objectives or desired outputs. We want 𝑥 and it needs to meet this scope.

① Objective

We need a way to predict how much stock we will need during peak trading seasons.

② Scope

  • Prescriptive
  • list
  • of
  • required
  • features

Outcome-centric initiative

The following brief covers the same initiative, but focuses primarily on the desired outcomes and problems to be solved. This process encourages the problem to be addressed from multiple/alternative perspectives and makes it easy to keep everyone on the same page throughout implementation.

① Problem statement

During peak periods, flagship products are often out-of-stock.

② Proposed value

If products are available to more shoppers, customers will be happier and revenue will be higher.

③ Proposed solutions

  • Build a tool to predict seasonal stock requirements.
  • Allow shoppers to register for “Back in Stock” notifications when they land on a product that is out of stock.
  • Prominently recommend alternative products when shoppers land on a product that is out of stock.

Scope can then be determined after the various solutions have been explored and one or more have been selected.

Outcome-focused brief example.