Output or Outcome? These Product Leaders Agree on the Better Choice.

For these three product leaders, outcomes come out on top.
Written by
June 17, 2021Updated: June 18, 2021

Designing a new product can feel like taking a trip to the grocery store hungry and without a list — just about everything looks appealing. In a foggy, voracious haze, you leave with what you thought were sensible groceries in tow. Finally at home and ready to address the nagging emptiness, you discover an assortment of mismatched ingredients, none of which combine into a complete meal. “This isn’t so bad,” you think to yourself as you open a second bag of chips, hoping maybe this one will fill the void.

Understanding ultimate goals is key to successful product development. In Alexandra Edelstein’s experience as Klaviyo’s group product manager, customers were excited to drive business with Klaviyo’s e-commerce data, but they “weren’t exactly sure what ‘good’ performance looked like for their company or industry.” Without a clear understanding of their environment, and their desired outcome within it, hunger for output remained intangible. 

For Erika Bartucca, senior product manager at ezCater, understanding the value of each product feature keeps her team aligned on desired outcomes. While producing an assortment of functional outputs is attractive, it becomes easy to lose focus on the ultimate customer impact, leaving product teams vulnerable to failed reception and wasted resources.

“Our goal is to empower teams with a shared understanding of the bigger picture to work toward solving more complex problems,” Bartucca explained.

Output devotees, proceed with caution — these four product pros unanimously agree that outcomes are the superior choice.
 

 

woman headshot and quotation
klaviyo

Share an example of how an outcomes-based approach has benefited your team or the product as a whole.

At Klaviyo, we heard that customers were excited about driving business growth using our platform, but many weren't exactly sure what "good" performance looked like for their company or industry. Was their average email open rate OK? Was the conversion rate for their welcome automation under-performing compared to their peers? Our data science team got to work on a peer benchmarking tool that, on a monthly cadence, analyzes areas where each customer is performing comparatively well, as well as areas for improvement. We questioned whether to add more benchmarked metrics — more equals better, right? This was a very output-oriented mindset. Instead, the team set clear success metrics around usage and retention, and stayed focused on assessing usability and validating what brings users back each month. 

The result has been an immediate set of priorities that smooth out key workflows and improve data interpretability. Focusing on outcomes over outputs ensures that above all, we're maximizing the value we deliver to our customers and holding ourselves accountable to the impact we seek.

Alexandra Edelstein is Group Product Manager for Klaviyo, an email marketing and automation platform created for online businesses.

 

women headshot and quotation
circleci

Share an example of how an outcomes-based approach has benefited your team or the product as a whole.

Outcomes help keep us focused on priorities, and whether our product decisions are delivering the desired results. Being outcomes-focused also allows us to measure and quantify our successes.

Rose Jen is Director of Product Monetization at CircleCI, a platform for continuous software integration and delivery.

 

company logo and quotation
ezcater

Share an example of how an outcomes-based approach has benefited your team or the product as a whole.

Outputs tend to keep us busy, but outcomes are where we can actually see our work making an impact. In other words, outputs are the “what,” while outcomes are the “why”. Our team recently made the decision to shift both our objectives and key results (OKR) and roadmapping processes to map toward desired outcomes, rather than functional outputs. 

Instead of solely highlighting features we are delivering, we track how work impacts the end user — in our case, our customers and catering partners. This change has enabled our teams to better align with the “why” and focus on the value we provide to our customers and partners. Our goal is to empower teams with a shared understanding of the bigger picture to work toward solving more complex problems.

Erika Bartucca is Senior Manager of Product Operations at ezCater, a provider of corporate catering.

 

man headshot and quotation
sharkninja

Share an example of how an outcomes-based approach has benefited your team or the product as a whole.

The outcome was to win a position in the white space created by a new and rising sub-category. Staying focused on the outcome, we had the flexibility to pivot what the product (output) could and should be. If we had focused on the output alone, instead of the ultimate goal of winning the white space, we would not have been successful in launching a new sub-brand.

Purvin Shah is SVP of Product Development at SharkNinja, the maker of Shark® vacuums and Ninja® kitchen appliances.

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