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It’s Not Just Semantics: Managing Outcomes Vs. Outputs

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What’s the difference between outputs and outcomes? Some think the question is merely semantic, or that the difference is simple: outputs are extrinsic and outcomes intrinsic. I think otherwise; the difference between outputs and outcomes is more fundamental and profound.

In the non-profit world, outputs are programs, training, and workshops; outcomes are knowledge transferred and behaviors changed. In the for-profit world, the distinctions are not always so clear. Let’s define outputs as the stuff we produce, be it physical or virtual, for a specific type of customer—say, car seats for babies. And let’s define outcomes as the difference our stuff makes—keeping your child safe in the car. Borrowing an example from the Innovation Network, a highway construction company’s outputs are project design and the number of highway miles built and repaired. Outcomes are the difference made by the outputs: better traffic flow, shorter travel times, and fewer accidents.

Outcomes are the benefit your customers receive from your stuff. This starts with truly understanding your customers’ needs—their challenges, issues, constraints, priorities—by walking in their shoes and in their neighborhoods, businesses, and cultures. See what’s inconvenient, taking a lot of time, money, and/or effort. Your customers are too busy to plan, shop for, and cook healthy meals. What if you made a healthy, reasonably priced, fast-cooking meal so a family could eat better? Create a solution that your customers can sustain, and you enable life-changing outcomes, big and small.

Outputs are important products, services, profits, and revenues: the What. Outcomes create meanings, relationships, and differences: the Why. Outputs, such as revenue and profit, enable us to fund outcomes; but without outcomes, there is no need for outputs.

My hero and friend Steve Denning makes this distinction exceedingly clear in his emphasis on the outcome of delighting our customers instead of just making more stuff. Steve encourages us to tell stories about our customers, about who they are and what they want, so they can achieve.

Let’s take the story of Deb, who wants a new car and is very busy. She’d like to buy a car from a dealer who will make buying and, more importantly, servicing the car as easy as possible. She doesn’t have the time to wait at the dealer while the car is being serviced—or even time to get to the dealer for service. Since she travels, she’d like to go on a trip and have the car serviced while she’s gone. What if a dealer picked up and serviced her car, returning it all clean and detailed, without Deb having to alter one moment of her schedule?

Another story, for example: A food company has a new product, all the s’more ingredients in a box, and wan


ts to make a big splash for the upcoming spring and summer seasons—but it’s up against some formidable competitors in the market whose brands are synonymous with s’mores. What if a packaging company could help them strategize not just how to package the product for higher acceptance into the mass retail markets, but also where to place it on store shelves to get the most exposure?

Through stories, we are able to empathize with our customers and recognize the outcomes they need. Business in the 21st century needs more focus on outcomes than outputs. We all can see where focusing on outputs got us: In education we’ve focused on test results (outputs) and ended up with some high-scoring kids who don’t know how to apply what they’ve learned to the world at large (outcome), like how the reasons leading to the American Revolution are similar to those that led to the Arab Spring. We have a plethora of apps for our smartphones and tablets (output), but how many do we consistently use—and how many actually improve our lives (outcome)?

We may not yet have all the right tools, methods, and processes to recognize and measure outcomes, but that’s no reason not to try. Let’s create them together while we change our world.


Deb Mills-Scofield is a strategy and innovation consultant to mid/large corporations and partner in Glengary LLC, an early-stage venture capital firm. She’s also a Visiting Scholar at Brown University and teaches at Oberlin College. Her patent from AT&T Bell Labs was one of the highest revenue-generating patents for AT&T and Lucent. Twitter: @dscofield.

Original post can be found here.

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Florida Nonprofit Listening Tour - PODCAST

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Tuesday, October 25, 2016

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Three key benefits to in-house professional development

Posted By Shari Jennings, Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Nonprofit organizations seek out the most cost effective way to provide professional development to staff.  Fortunately, Nonprofits First offers a variety of workshops at little or no cost to members and nonmembers to meet that need.  The reality is that every organization has the opportunity to develop staff by encouraging them to develop presentations and present at meetings within the organization.

Three key benefits to in-house professional development include:

  • Self-awareness:  Staff become more aware of their strengths and can further develop in areas that are more of a challenge.
  • Leadership skills:  Staff take ownership of their ideas and become experts in a specific area.  They are also able to own their role as the presenter.
  • Staff buy-in: When staff are trusted to take on leadership roles, agencies win because staff are motivated to carry out the mission of the organization.

The next time you or a staff member is looking for professional development, look no further than your next staff meeting, department meeting, or even your next board meeting.

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Nonprofit to build 36 affordable apartments in Palm Beach County

Posted By Adriene Tynes, Monday, October 24, 2016

Neighborhood Renaissance in April paid $1.2 million for an eight-acre site on Florida Mango Road in an unincorporated area north of Forest Hill Boulevard.

Seeking to make a small dent in Palm Beach County’s affordable housing squeeze, a nonprofit landlord plans to build 36 apartments for working-class tenants.

Neighborhood Renaissance of West Palm Beach said the two-bedroom units will rent for about $1,200 a month, a price that’s $150 less than the going rate for two-bedroom units. The developer plans to break ground next year.

The Mango Cove apartment complex won’t have a pool, but it will have a playground and picnic area. Each unit will boast a washer and dryer — an amenity that’s rare in that price range, Neighborhood Renaissance officials said.

“We’re going to be offering a nice product at a reasonable price,” said Michael Pecar, real estate development director at Neighborhood Renaissance. “Hopefully, some of the other landlords will see a need to improve their properties.”

To move in, tenants must meet income limits. A two-person household could make no more than $64,560, while a three-person household would be limited to a maximum income of $72,600.

To raise money for construction, Pecar said, “We had to get creative.”

The nonprofit’s brainstorm? It aims to sell 20 single-family homes it owns throughout the county and rents to tenants who meet its income limits.

The homes are listed at less than $270,000 — a price range with limited supply in Palm Beach County — and can be sold only to moderate-income buyers for 30 years.

Neighborhood Renaissance also received a $100,000 donation from Wells Fargo.

In addition to the rentals on Florida Mango Road, Neighborhood Renaissance is developing affordable townhouses in downtown Lake Worth. Those units are for sale at prices starting at $230,000.

Original post can be found here.

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How to Pick a Proper Password

Posted By Robert Montanez, Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, October 25, 2016

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