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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

Measuring Outcomes vs. Inputs


I was with a University President last week talking about his institution’s Message, Framework, Unique Selling Points, etc. He’s an incredibly well-read, experienced, really bright thought leader. He shared a story about American business, especially MANUFACTURING, as it existed 50 years ago. (These are my shorthand notes. He told the story much more eloquently.)

THE ‘INPUT’ PARADIGM:

MAKE IT. INSPECT IT. THROW OUT THE BAD. SELL THE GOOD.

The ‘OUTCOME’ PARADIGM:

MAKE IT. SELL IT.

Replaced the old model with a change in PROCESS (re-engineering around measurement and statistics, etc. Think Edward Denning and Elijah Goldratt.)

The goal was to stabilize the consistency of the PROCESS to minimize and eliminate the BAD STUFF.

Here’s where he went with that re: EDUCATION.

The old INPUT model goes back 500 years (University of Bologna, etc.) Nothing’s changed. Same pedagogy. Teacher. Student. Classroom. If you fail, you’re gone. Throw out the bad. Keep the good. Be ‘proud‘ of the number of students you don’t accept and the number of students who don’t make it.

In education, a new model of OUTCOME-BASED would look at the entire process so that everyone makes it.

INPUT VS. OUTCOME. I found it really interesting and, perhaps more importantly for For Impact leaders, social entrepreneurs, change agents and Development/Sales… think about how this applies to the way we ‘RAISE MONEY’.

The old INPUT-BASED model is all about activity, cultivation, marketing, annual fund, chasing mice.

The new OUTCOME-BASED model (certainly our For Impact model) is all about:

  1. Writing ‘TRIPLE NET CHECKS’ to the organization from the Development Operation.

  2. A laser-like focus on RESULTS/OUTCOME… not on activities, special events, donor acquisitions, chasing mice, etc.

  3. Do only those things that have dramatic, quantum leap, transformational results. (Chase antelopes.)

P.S. A few days ago, a very, very senior development office, principle gift officer actually told our Vice President that the institution needed to “spend the next five years totally focused on building up ANNUAL FUND”.

Can you imagine doing that in ‘business’? Let’s sell a bunch of little stuff to a lot of people… so that five years from now those people can buy more and bigger stuff. We’d be out of business.