Is Outcome-Based Planning being passed by Design Thinking, Lean Startup(TM), and the other Innovation chatter that we see? This focus is certainly deserving and a necessary component in today’s marketplace. Where the strength of an Outcome approach takes place is in understanding your customers, markets and most of all the people that you influence. Outcome-Based planning is a compilation of your Target, Influential, and one to one marketing all combined and on steroids.
Outcome-Based Planning does not focus on traditional approaches such as problem solving, activity, process or vision. It focuses on the behaviors and what is important to your partners and customers. Rather than finding a product/market fit, we try to find a market/product fit.
I see a lot of talk about co-creation, open innovation, community, etc. but I see little in the way of programs on how we might create and improve on this type of relationship or cooperation. If anyone thinks managing a sales pipeline or a marketing funnel will create community, I believe needs to re-think their thoughts. Any type of manipulation in the long run will stunt any type of a co-created platform.
I happen to be a big proponent of understanding your own capabilities and working from your strengths, see my musing in the Lean Scale-Up. This leads to a different way of engagement. Though I am not the best at it, I find myself slipping all the time, I think a strength-based approach is the new and a better method over the traditional problem-solving approach.
Another area that we see emphasized a great deal is change management. It is a large part of the strength of Lean. At the heart of Lean is Kaizen or continuous improvement (change). Lean offers us a business process to accomplish this on a company wide basis.
These four components, cooperation, capabilities, change, and strength-based, are supported well by an outcome-based approach. However, we are not viewing these components from an internal view, rather from a view of how our customers and ourselves must behave and interact to accomplish.
When we use the traditional thinking processes mentioned above, we view the customer being driven by our actions. We think of the customer in a static position and seldom address their evolving structure, and the unsettledness that are initiatives my create. We think of what they want to accomplish, mostly from a functional perspective. Do we ask questions that may be termed as Sensemaking? Questions like:
- In what ways can this decision be difficult?
- How much time and effort is made into making this decision?
- How do you assess the situation or broader context of the decision?
- What are you already doing well or current expertise that this decision affects?
As you can see, the flow of What’s and How’s versus the drilling down of Why? Why is for solution finding. What’s and How’s are for empathetic search and discovery. As we explore empathetically the Behavior, Attitudes, Conditions, Knowledge, and Status (BACKS) associated with people and the organization surfaces.
In Outcome Based Planning, BACKS is what we measure and monitor. This is how we create a Service Dominant Thinking environment. At the heart of Outcome-Based Planning is not the process of creating the model. That is transactional, GD-Logic thinking. Instead, it is the on-going evaluation of the model that is the driver as we attempt create a co-created value proposition, Service Dominant Logic (SD-Logic). More about that in a later blog post.
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A set of questions I was recently asked that I thought might shed some light on how I think and what I do:
What is your experience in project management, especially for startups? In some respect, everything is a project. In startups that I have worked we have spent most of our time on finding product/market fit and using the basic principles that Ash Maurya outlines in his book, Running Lean. This is based on Lean Startup and Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Generation. These are good outlines to follow, but they are not project management tools. Projects have a beginning and an ending point. They must be defined in scope. These tools provide strategic vision and direction. I encourage project members to have a basic understanding, such as the Business Model Canvas, of the overall business. This clarity along with a clear project scope allows for good decision making throughout the organization. Lack of clarity breeds ambiguity and prevents tasks from being performed.
What software or methodology have you used to manage projects in the past? I may show my age a little here, but I started with Microsoft Project when it came on (2) 5¼ inch floppy disk. I have used more software packages than most are familiar with. My favorite is Trello which is a Kanban (Agile) style of software. Kanban is a sophisticated online card board. It has become very popular in the software development industry. I also have used Smartsheet for people that want to use a Gantt Chart type. Both of these are in the cloud and allow for online collaboration. However, all software has shortcomings; one size does not fit all. Actually, in the truest sense there no such thing as project management software, they are all project scheduling software. Project Management in its truest form is winning the competition for someone’s time –there is only 1440 minutes in a day.
Are you passionate about entrepreneurship and can you help define a strategic vision? I realize the importance of having a strategy. The old saying of strategy before tactics has never been truer. As the pace of change has accelerated the more important it is to communicate and define the strategic vision. This is why I promote understanding the business throughout the organization using the Business Model Canvas. People sometimes have mistaken that as being rigid and inflexible. It is not. Transferring vision to strategies to actions is one ingredient that will separate me from others.
What was your actual role in the last project you participated in? My latest work has centered on working as a marketing consultant. I have led from the middle and been assigned additional duties as the project has developed. I am working on bringing a product to market and managing the marketing platform for a client at this time. This job is winding down after launch, and I will stay on in an advisory capacity, I assume. In most instances, I have been the outside consultant managing outside vendors and reporting to an owner of the company.
Would you consider yourself analytical? Give an example of how you have used this skill in your career. I am a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, not sure how more analytical you can get! I spend a lot of time with clients developing metrics that matter. In fact, I have taken over several Hubspot accounts and demonstrated how to transfer the data into useable form. It is not about the amount of data, but the ability to use what you can gather effectively and without the extra burden on the workflow. For example, yesterday we have a platform that the callers used to populate a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for their initial calls. When they are successful they enter the client into the Hubspot workflow. We developed and auto-populated sheet to identify the results of the process. This seems pretty basic, but I could discuss surveys, the use of Mini-Tab, Multi-Vari Studies, Regression Models….I am a Six Sigma Black Belt.
How do you handle unproductive team members? Empathy first and reflection second: I have found that many times it is a lack of clarity and having CLEAR Communication. If you wish to compete on clarity, and speed up implementation, you must provide this information, or create ways for people to figure it out themselves.
- Connection to their workload
- List action steps
- Expectations for success
- Ability to achieve success
- Return to that person
If you have done all that and performance is still not being achieved, I reduce workload and take away critical tasks and work with the person individually even to the point of screen sharing to see if the person is just over their head. Once I understand, I try to form a mutual understanding of what the next steps are needed without affecting project performance. If the person is indeed overhead, seldom have they not readily admitted it during this process.
How do you motivate burnt out or bored team members? When people choose between being compliant, acting with full commitment or doing nothing at all, these are the five questions they think about, and need answered:
- How is this relevant to what they do?
- What, specifically, should they be doing?
- What do success and failure look like?
- What tools and support are needed?
- WIIFM – What’s in it for me? Or, what’s in it for them?
Motivation is often times a matter of engagement. Having these people engaged in team meetings is imperative. Being recognized and being accountable to members of the team versus the “Project Manager” is imperative.
What is the most important skill a project manager should have? Empathy is the fundamental principle of understanding. I will not tell you that I was born with this, but it is a skill that I have had to work on and aware of it in my daily practice.
Any questions you would add and answer?
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I am a big fan of Laurence Gonzales book Everyday Survival: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things, who was introduced to me by Bill Dettmer of Theory of Constraints fame and past podcast participant, Systematizing your approach to management, Podcast with Bill Dettmer.
I have also created several blog post from Laurence’s book, If Nothing Bad Happens, You Must Be Doing Something Right? and Bootstrapping Business Survival. Below is a video on a simple explanation of Mental Model Mistakes done by Laurence. What I enjoy is the simplicity of his story and told so well that you can practically repeat after watching it once. Try it!
In a recent blog post and several others, Increase your Innovation Capacity: Manage your Sphere of Influence, I contend that the typical tools such as marketing funnels, customer journeys or sales cycles limits us to Goods-dominant logic (GD-logic) thinking and prevents us from viewing from the perspective of Service Dominant Logic (SD-Logic). If that is not a big enough picture, it is what separates commoditized products/services from building an eco-system and platforms such as Starbucks, Amazon or Apple.
What I like to create is a different type of mapping strategy that I call Outcome-Based mapping and is derived from the non-profit world of Outcome Mapping. What makes it unique is it focuses on changing behavior through boundary partners (influencers).
In an Outcome-Based Mapping approach, we recognize that a change of behavior must occur for us to achieve our goals or make the desired impact that wish to obtain. In traditional sales and marketing we can develop the simplest of all marketing funnels based on a pre-purchase, purchase (buy), and post purchase. We have a tendency to complicate this into numerous steps and activities. When we view an outcome-based approach we like to separate the group very similarly into Expect to see, like to see and love to see. We can separate it more into something similar to a customer journey may but the point is not get to prescriptive on the actions but continue to focus on the behaviors.
I created an outcome persona of how we may look at a boundary partner in the outline below. It is important to note that every block is not expected to be completed, and certain components in the persona may not have to change to create the desired outcome.
Along the top, we identify the partner and create the standard columns of Expect to see, Like to see and Love to see. We write several scenarios of the outcomes of each column. I like to view the upside and the downside of each scenario instead of thinking. Also, try not to create the best case scenario a replication of the next column.
The bottom two-thirds of the board consist of using the BACKS measurement process. More about this process is in the post, The BACKS Approach to Building an Eco-System. Again, I emphasize that each component of BACKS will not be completed for every block. If it is, you probably have narrowed the definition of a boundary partner or influence to much. On the other hand, there should be changes in at least 50% (roughly) or you have not defined the he partner enough.
This approach, I have found allows me to move away from viewing a customer as a transaction and allows me to view them from a behavior standpoint. It is an entirely different way of segmenting and organizing your efforts.
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