Friday, October 8, 2010

Output vs Outcome

It's a remarkably simple idea, but a friend of mine reminded me the other day that output and outcome are not the same, particularly in the projects business.

"Output" is another word for deliverables, and we need not dwell more on the definition. Just refer to any manual on project management

"Outcome", on the other hand, is impact that deliverables have on the intended beneficiary. "Outcome" is another way of saying benefit; "outcome" is another way of saying what was the value-add of the project to the enterprise that hosted it or the customer/user community to which its deliverables were targeted.

This is not a difference without a distinction. Many successful outputs beget unsuccessful outcomes: just go back to the Apple Newton to see a product that worked but was unsuccessful; or, had a "New Coke" lately?

Anyway, just a musing. Think about this the next time you work on a project charter.

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