Clarify Your Strategy with Outcomes

agile leadership clarity outcomes strategic planning

By Ryan Fullmer

October 21, 2022

Getting the strategic work done is critical to your organization’s success. Too often, the work that is being done isn’t aligned to what’s most important. Everyone is busy, yet progress on the strategic work is frustratingly slow. It feels like everyone is going in different directions.

How do you get everyone aligned and on the same page? Start clarifying your strategy with outcomes. Outcomes define the results you want to achieve from your strategy. They help your teams focus on what’s most important.

Strategic Planning Workshop

Conduct an outcome-driven, strategic planning workshop to provide clarity to your strategy. Bring together leaders and key stakeholders in a collaborative working session. Plan to spend about a day hours to get clear on the business context and define outcomes and success measures.

Cover these four topics in your session:

  1. Understand the Business Context
  2. Identify Potential Outcomes
  3. Select the Top Outcomes
  4. Define Success Measures

Understand the Business Context

Start the process by discussing the state of the business to provide a foundation for identifying outcomes. Do this through a group activity that generates information about the current business context.

An activity that we find useful is SWOT analysis. Identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats generates good conversation. It helps the group to start thinking strategically. The resulting information provides a helpful starting point for the outcomes discussion.

Identify Potential Outcomes

With the business context in mind, it’s time to identify the outcomes for the year. Outcomes are the results you want to achieve. They are not the activities, actions or items that contribute to the result.

For example, an outcome might be to increase customer satisfaction and the activities to get there could include implementing new customer service processes. In that example, the outcome identified the desired result (improved customer satisfaction).

Break into pairs or small groups to identify potential outcomes to achieve by the end of the year. For each outcome, identify the following information:

  • Title - Short and memorable title for the outcome
  • Customer - Primary customer or stakeholder for this outcome
  • Ambition - What you hope to achieve and why it is valuable

Select the Top Outcomes

Now that you have a list of potential outcomes, you will decide which ones to focus on. It's important to narrow in on the three to five most important outcomes. This provides focus for the organization and gives you the best chance to make more progress on your strategy.

Start narrowing in by evaluating the outcomes. The information and discussion that results from the evaluation will guide the group’s decision. A model we use to evaluate outcomes is the ICE Score model.

With the ICE Score Model, evaluate each outcome by assigning numbers to three parameters: Impact, Confidence and Ease. Rate each parameter from one to ten and add the three numbers to determine the ICE Score for each option.

After the outcomes are evaluated, the group discusses the results and identifies insights. Guide the group to select three to five outcomes to focus on for the year.

Define Success Measures

The last step is to define success for the selected outcomes. You do this by identifying measures. The measures add clarity to the ambition and help people understand what success means.

Define measures for what results you want to attain. The measures are described as values that are increasing, decreasing, or sustaining. It is helpful to identify the current value (what it is today) and the target value (what you expect it to be).

For example:

  • Delivery of Service: Decrease delivery of service from 4 days to 2 days
  • % Same-Day Service Delivery: Increase same-day service from 35% to 60%
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Increase NPS from 8 to 12

Next Steps

Now that you have identified a set of outcomes, you need to communicate and share them with your teams. Take a collaborative approach. Have open discussions to gather feedback and adjust the outcomes. Help the teams create their own outcomes that align and support the organizational outcomes for the year.

Use the outcomes to set priorities and focus everyone’s efforts on what’s most important. It’s critical to track and evaluate progress toward the outcomes. Reflect each quarter on how things are going and make adjustments.

By taking an outcome-driven approach to your strategy, you shift the focus from “completing activities” to “making an impact”.

Do You Need Support?

At Conduo, we have a proven workshop for outcome-driven, strategic planning. If you are interested in having an experienced Conduo coach facilitate a workshop for your organization, set up a time to meet with us.


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