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Watch Jeff Patton’s “Output versus Outcome and Impact” talk

In this short video, Jeff Patton talks about the challenges of moving from Output to Outcome in Product Thinking, and how we should measure good outcome!

In this short video, Jeff Patton talks about how Product thinking should move our focus from output to outcome and impact, the difference between business outcome (or impact) and user outcome (or behavior) and how we should be measuring outcomes.

Good Outcome versus Bad Outcome

My Takeaways

Jeff is probably one of the few people that has been able to translate Agile into a Human Centric practice, and there are many pearls in this talk, but a few thing really resonate in my work around Jobs to be Done (JTBD) and my design strategy work:

  • Here is yet another great conversation to help us focus on outcomes instead of outputs!
  • He asks this great product coaching question that goes around like this: If I were to ask you about a product you love or a product you would tell some about, I promise you that you won’t tell them I love this product because it was finished on time!
  • We measure outcome by people’s behaviour: seeing, trying, using, and continue to using!
  • Jeff warns that is not only about making people happy — similar to Joshua Seiden’s approach to outcomes (what are the changes in behaviour that drives business impact) — we work for a company that have a vision, strategy and goals their trying to achieve, which usually are measured through metrics: some business impact needs to be created!
  • I think Jeff summarises the hardest part of what it takes to shift the mindset from outputs to outcomes: people’s behaviours is observable “right away” (User Outcomes) — especially if you have put the right systems of Visibility and Traceability in place– that he calls Leading Indicators, but we can’t measure right away if we’ve got Return of Investment (ROI) or Market Share increase that he calls Lagging Indicators (Business Impact or Outcomes). Again, another challenge that we’ve discussed at length when I said we need more objective ways to quantify and qualify value (from both the user and from the business perspective).
  • One of my favourite parts is when he talks about what he thinks the biggest challenge with the current product thinking, which is about ideas:
    • There is always too many ideas!
    • Most ideas are not great!
    • We can’t tell which ideas will fail upfront, and we tend to be overconfident on our own! That’s why we should be always testing business ideas!
  • Our job is to minimise output (build less!) and maximise outcome (create more business impact):
  • If we deliver things on time, at the right cost, which people use them: that is a good outcome!
  • If we deliver things on time, at the right cost, but people hate them: a bad outcome!
  • The hardest things to get our heads around: if we totally screw up scope, deliver a fraction of what we say, but people use them and love them: that is a good outcome!

About Jeff Patton

Jeff Patton is the glue that connects good product management and strategy, lean user experience and agile delivery practices together. He has authored numerous articles, essays and, most recently, a book, “User Story Mapping.” An independent consultant with a unique teaching and speaking style, he uses hand-drawings and engaging story telling to share his passion for product design.

Jeff Patton and Itamar Medeiros in 2018
I had the privilege of meeting Jeff Patton in 2018 during his amazing training (“Passionate Product Owner“) he delivered at SAP

Jeff has a long, involved history in product design. He has designed and developed software for the past 20 years on a wide variety of projects from on-line aircraft parts ordering to electronic medical records. Jeff has focused on Agile approaches since working on an early Extreme Programming team in 2000. In particular, he has specialized in the application of user-centered design techniques to improve Agile requirements, planning, and products.

Patton, J. (2021), The Mindset That Kills Product Thinking, retrieved 22 February 2022 from jeffpatton & associates, https://www.jpattonassociates.com/mindset-that-kills-product-thinking/

By Itamar Medeiros

Originally from Brazil, Itamar Medeiros currently lives in Germany, where he works as Director of Design Strategy at SAP.

Working in the Information Technology industry since 1998, Itamar has helped truly global companies in multiple continents create great user experience through advocating Design and Innovation principles. During his 7 years in China, he promoted the User Experience Design discipline as User Experience Manager at Autodesk and Local Coordinator of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) in Shanghai.

Itamar holds a MA in Design Practice from Northumbria University (Newcastle, UK), for which he received a Distinction Award for his thesis Creating Innovative Design Software Solutions within Collaborative/Distributed Design Environments.

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