It’s a pandemic, so let’s talk about baking cookies.
Baking cookies requires three major steps/phases:
- acquiring the ingredients
- mixing the ingredients together, and
Strangely enough, achieving your organization’s goals also involves three major phases:
- input (activities)
- output (outcome)
The 3 Phases of Achieving Results
The Input Phase
When we’re baking our pandemic cookies, the input phase involves obtaining and gathering all of our ingredients. This part is easy to quantify and measure. In fact, it’s even simple to measure the activities involved with tossing the flour, sugar, chocolate chips, etc. into a bowl and firing up the mixer.
In our analogy to the process of achieving results, the input phase involves all the activities that an individual or organization executes in pursuit of a result.
The Output Phase
When we’re baking, we might refer to the cookie dough after it has been mixed together as the output from our activities.
In our organizations, the output would refer to the immediate result of a program or initiative from our input activities. And this is where we might be tempted to stop measuring. After all, we have a result, right? And our result is often simple to measure and describe.
But if we stop here, we miss the most powerful and compelling part of our story.
To help illustrate this, let’s look at a real-life example.
Why It’s a Mistake to Stop Measuring at the Output Phase
A great example of measuring inputs and outputs can be found in the grade-level reading movement.
For some quick context, here are some important statistics about why children need to read on grade level courtesy of the United Way of Topeka:
“74% of students who fail to read proficiently by the end of third grade falter in the later grades and often drop out before earning a high school diploma. 61% of low-income children have no children’s books at home. Poor children hear as many as 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers.”
Various initiatives have emerged to address the grade-level reading conundrum. An input would be volunteer readers entering a kindergarten classroom weekly to read with a child and work on sight words, social and emotional intelligence factors, and the general joy of reading.
In that situation, the output would be the increased number of reading hours a child experienced because of the volunteer (or activity input.)
But wait. Who cares? Why does the number of hours a child reads matter?
To be blunt, it doesn’t.
The Impact Phase
The number of hours that a child and volunteer read together is not the problem that we are seeking to solve. We’re actually trying to address the grade-level reading crisis.
What matters is the result or impact… specifically, that the activities by the volunteer lead to the quantity of hours necessary to help the child achieve grade-level reading. A child reading on grade level is the result (impact) that we intended with the original activities.
Do you, your organization, or the organizations that you donate to take it all the way to impact?
Do you have results in mind… or are you just looking to feel good about your actions, eat the cookie dough,…. and regret it later on when you have a tummy ache? (Or feeling that the needle is not moving on the real issue.)
Too often we spend time thinking about the activities and ignoring trackable measurements that lead to impact.
Starting with SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound) goals increases the possibility that milestones and activities will create the desired results.
We would love to help you to learn more about developing your compelling story at our “Strategic Marketing Workshop: 2021 and Beyond.” A $600 value for only $97, this impactful and interactive workshop will also cover the platforms and tools used to tell your story and to disseminate your services and products to the right audience. Register here to attend – breakfast will be served and discounted headshots available onsite! We hope to see you there!