What is a Measurable Outcome (MO)?

Outcome dartA Measurable Outcome or MO, is a clearly defined measurable definition of success. An outcome is where you want to get to.

Increasing conversion rates, minimizing support calls, or improving time to market.

Outcomes exist at multiple levels. They might be high-level strategic goals for example, to increase customer acquisition, increase monetization and improve customer engagement.

They might be product level outcomes. For an e-commerce website; to Increase conversion rates.
For services it might be to improve the website availability.

There might be capability outcomes, for example: Decrease time to market, deploy products faster, reduce costs in operating systems.

The key things you need to know are how to really understand that you have met your outcome and have made a difference.

1. Name
State the outcome clearly by giving it a name and making it action oriented (Verb + noun phrase). Common actions might be to Improve, Increase or Minimize. Usually we will make these a positive change e.g. instead of decreasing churn, we will improve engagement. However you can use verbs such as  decrease or reduce.

2. Value
Tie the outcome to the value it will deliver. Often this will be monetary as money is a common currency we can use to tie our value to it, but not always. Chris Matts ties the revenue states to making, saving, or protecting revenue. Other examples of non-monetary values might be to acquire knowledge or share ideas. For example; if the outcome was to increase conversion rates for a website, then the value might be how much each 1% conversion is worth to the company annually as a monetary value.

3. Scale
What is the unit of measure: For example, %, time (days, hours, milliseconds), or the number (how many unique users, click-thru rates etc)

4. Baseline
The starting point for improvement and where you have taken the initial measurement. This is a snapshot to compare future results against For example; Baseline of current conversions is 14% (taken from web analytics system on March 25).

5. Method
The what, who and how the measurements will be observed or captured. For example; Usability test at facility run monthly, lead by usability research lead.

5. Current state
The current progress, or new baseline. This is the leading indicator, or a progressive measure that provides feedback on the current progress.

To target or not to target
Teams will often set themselves a target or target range. This is not mandatory. The issue will be to feel a sense of failure for not achieving the full target number, however each incremental improvement might still have value. If there is a reason for the target, for example if there is a direct link between the length of time it takes to load a page for an e-commerce website and the number of successful conversions, then there might need to be a specific target of a minimum of 4 seconds. In which case it’s a very good idea to add the target.


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What is the difference between an Outcome, and Impact, Output and Throughput?

 Outcome: Think of the outcome as where you want to get to. An outcome is the definition and measure of success.

Impact: An impact is what is caused after you reach the outcome. It defines how much of a difference you have made, and the side effects of reaching the outcome. For example; A childs outcome might be to have a rock they throw land in a puddle. A positive impact might be delight on the part of the child when they reach the target and they see the water splash out. There may also be a negative impact if their mother happened to be standing by the puddle at the time, and punished them accordingly.

Output: An output is the work required to reach the outcome. For example, the steps taken forward, the arm movement, and the throwing of the stone.

Throughput: Throughput is one way to describe the speed of delivering the outputs. For example; how fast the child might run, how many steps they take, how many stones they throw.

The goal is to minimize the outputs needed to reach the outcome.

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