Sound Bites

Focus on Outcomes, Not Output

with Deidre Paknad, WorkBoard CEO

Deidre Paknad

Deidre Paknad, WorkBoard CEO: One of the biggest areas of misalignment that organizations experience is: the executive team is focused on strategic priorities and on outcomes and the rest of the organization is very oriented around output and activity. And the output and the activity just don't add up to the outcomes that the leadership team is looking for on their strategy.

To give you an example of that, the strategic priority might be to enter into a new market segment and acquire customers and a new buyer. The way that trickles down into the organization — for instance, to a product marketing organization — might be: we need to do sales training and we need to publish the sales playbook. And their focus then becomes getting sales training done and publishing the playbook and calling that finished — really, the output.

Now in the OKR transition from output to outcome mindset, that translates in a different way. Instead of translating into "do the playbook," in an OKR model and in an outcome point of view, you shift the thinking to, "Well, what is it we're really trying to accomplish? What we really need to accomplish and what would really be aligned to the company's strategic priorities is we need to enable the sellers to compete and win in the new market segment." And publishing the playbook isn't enough. It's an input. The outcome we need is that 75% of our sellers feel competent, capable, and enabled to compete and win in that new segment. And that's the outcome that the product marketing team drives that aligns to the outcomes that the company needs to achieve. And a good OKR process really drives that clarity, that real alignment on outcomes, and it closes that gap between what the leadership team and the strategic priorities require and how teams think about what they contribute.

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