How to Promote Your Purpose through Business Outcomes
In this post, we complete the sequence about business purpose, from vision to offer to marketing to outputs with business outcomes. This progression is sequential although there can be loops, especially between offer and marketing. Sometimes things happen at once, eg outputs and outcomes can develop in parallel.
What is a Business Outcome?
Outcomes result from your client’s outputs. So, when someone completes your package and begins to meet their goals, their context changes. Perhaps as they intended, although there will be surprises too.
Outcomes can be hard to identify because they are usually qualitative. Mostly outputs are easy to measure but measurements lack meaning. You get 20 people to a training session, they all complete it and say they’re happy with it. How have things changed as a result of their training? It is sometimes possible to follow-up but their evidence will be mainly delivered as stories. Stories are not easy to summarise as evidence and so this step tends to be neglected.
Let’s say your client wants to change management in their industry for the better. You address this by coaching the client to be a better manager. If they are a better manager, this should be reflected in their outputs. But how has management improved generally in their industry? There could be a delay of several years, before the client shows their approach works better than the industry standard, assuming nothing knocks them off course.
Not all outcomes are difficult. Wider benefits can happen instantly and so long as someone takes note, they are easier to capture and prove. So, let’s take a look at some examples:
Outcomes for the Client
The relationship between outputs and outcomes can be straightforward. Your client gets more clients or better results from working with their clients. They see their business growing and the changes that follow to their lifestyle.
Are these positive or negative changes? Increased numbers of client increases income and this may result in positive changes for their family. But if it means the client spends more time working, this may affect family relationships adversely.
It is not uncommon to meet outputs and find the outcomes are not as comfortable as predicted. Underestimating the work that goes into increased outputs may be one reason. This is why many promises made by coaches are misleading because the cost of their delivery is not considered.
Not all outcomes relate to lifestyle. If the client has a business purpose, they expect to see it met through their outcomes. So, a business coach’s client wants to see change in the management culture of their organisation. They learn to become a better manager and use their example to show others the way forward.
They will be judged under the prevailing culture of their industry. Does their new approach deliver what the industry needs to deliver, usually profit? The pressure will be to use tried and tested approaches, especially if early outputs are disappointing. The result can be entrenched positions.
This does not take into account unexpected outcomes. Something unpredicted that in retrospect is caused by the changes.
The coach must help the client understand likely outcomes. The line between genius and folly can be very fine. The coach helps the client anticipate issues and consider how to handle them.
Outcomes for the Coach
The client’s outcomes are also the coach’s. There is a risk in depending on someone else’s behaviour to generate your outcomes.
Positive outcomes are not infrequent and usually clients, delighted with them, become supporters of their coach.
Negative outcomes are not infrequent and the coach must not deny responsibility for them. They should take on clients, who take responsibility for their own decisions. The coach helps clients make decisions but they must not be the coach’s decisions. To return to the coach and say “I tried what we discussed last time and things went pear-shaped – can you help me work out what to do next?” is ideal. The world is essentially unpredictable and trying new things is no guarantee of success.
The return of the client chastened by circumstance for more help is a brilliant outcome for the coach. It demonstrates trust. The client understands their business and need for an informed sounding board during a crisis.
For the coach, this is an important outcome because it shows a change in the client towards a calmer, better informed worldview.
Outcomes and Vision
Is this enough to meet the coach’s vision? The knack is to see the outcomes of your work and compare with your original vision. Ask how the vision manifests in the changes you have caused. Real life is always messier than visions of possible futures.
A negative outcome might contain elements of the original vision. There may be clues that show how the vision may to be modified.
If you intend to change your vision in the light of outcomes, ask whether the change covers up failure. Or have you identified new needs and so need to change your vision so that it is more relevant?
The pathway from vision to offer to marketing to outputs to outcomes is not set in stone. It should be malleable as you learn more about the changes you want to see. Your vision in five years’ time may be very different to today’s and yet you should be able to see the path you took. So each revised vision is more relevant, informed by similar values.
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