Building Winning Products, Productivity

Focus on Output

In any project, it’s tempting to pick a metric or two that will dictate success or failure. The simplicity is intoxicating and a flag on the hill is galvanizing for the team, but there is a downside. 

Indicators like revenue, number of customers, page views, or active users all have something in common. We don’t directly control them. They lag the work we do and managed poorly, can distract from the required daily effort.

Day to day, we should ignore outcomes and instead, focus on output. Output is what you can control today. This is the daily activities you do to impact your chosen metric(s).

  • Need more sales, forget the dashboard and start making phone calls.

  • Want to improve NPS, ignore the flash report and tackle some support tickets.

  • Looking to lose weight, don’t stare at the scale, track calories and go for a walk. 

Of course, check in with high level outcome from time to time. These check-ins tell you if you have the right strategy. Your efforts might be altogether wrong and a lagging indicator is the perfect tool to tell you what you’re doing isn’t working - time to adjust.

It’s natural to focus on the outcome, but don’t be blinded by its pristine allure. Just get to work on what you can control, the work you do, every day.