Outputs and outcomes

  • 16 November 2022
  • 5 replies

Userlevel 7
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Love this quote I recently saw from James Clear:

One of the simplest ways to win is to always connect the small things you do to the larger thing you hope to accomplish.

Thinking about this in the context of our work in product, why do you think we sometimes struggle to make this connection? For example the small things “outputs” aren’t always connected to the larger things “outcomes”. 

5 replies

Userlevel 5
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That’s such a powerful quote! I’d extend it just a bit …

Always connect the small things to a larger accomplishment which is connected to a big strategic goal


I think most people are trained to stay busy (or just look busy). They are conditioned to do lots of things every day that are part of their “job description”, largely because mass education is geared to crank out bureaucrats. It’s why bureaucracies perform very poorly in nearly every case (I’m being generous, I can’t think of a good example).

Society is not trained to consider how every step moves the team, product, company, or market forward. How does everything I do help me and my associates attain our goals. It’s hard to make those connections when you have been trained to ignore them. IMHO, that’s the difference between “workers” and creators.

My experience has lead me to believe this mindset is the single biggest challenge in building a successful org at any level. Even when handed a strategic framework to work within that they are fully behind, people struggle to keep it in mind when planning their day-to-day.

This is a challenge I always give my teammates …

If you can’t connect what you’re doing to the strategic plan, stop doing it until someone complains. And when someone complains, ask them to explain the connection you missed. If they can’t, tell them you can’t work on it.

If confrontation isn’t their thing, I ask them to nod and talk to me about it later 😉

Userlevel 5
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This was rattling around in my head yesterday and I remembered a quote from “Start at the End” by Matt Wallaert. He’s more gracious toward humanity than my previous comment. Emphasis is mine.

The tendency to focus on process over outcomes is actually a natural psychological operation: because we spend the majority of our cognitive resources on what is happening right now — which makes sense, since we do actually have to act in order to create change — we’re biased toward focusing on those immediate actions and how we’re doing them, rather than on their outcomes. Means over ends, or whats and hows over whys. The actions are more psychologically available, while outcomes recede into the mental distance.

Userlevel 7
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Great points @plainclothes - love the extended thoughts here and the quote from Matt’s book too.

BTW, we recently did an event with Matt if you didn’t catch it, you can check it out here: 


Userlevel 1

I can’t find the recording for the webinar November 3rd with Josh Seiden under product talks.
Did I look at the wrong place or when will it be made available?

Userlevel 7
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@Jakop unfortunately, Josh canceled his event with us, so there is no recording.