An important part of product management is understanding the difference between output and outcome. Here’s a definition:

An output describes the result of an activity a company carries out, but which does not have a measurable impact on its customers. An outcome is the actual added value that results from the output for the target group. 

Source: Workpath – https://www.workpath.com/magazine/output-vs-outcome

If we are focused on how many stories we are delivering but not what the stories are, that’s a sign there is too much focus on output.

It doesn’t matter how many stories a team delivers if none of them provide value to the customer.

Changing the focus from output towards outcome is a fundamental shift, and requires you to look at the goal of every story.

A good starting point is the user story statement. The format is as follows:

As a <type of user>
I want to <be able to do something>
So I can <benefit in some way>.

This gives us a clear indication of who we are building for, what they want to do, and why they want to do it.

The why is the key. Instead of asking teams to build a specific piece of functionality, we are helping them to understand the outcome. The team can then think about how to achieve that outcome.

Here are a couple of examples:

As a sales manager
I want to see the appointments for engineers
So I can understand how much capacity we have available.

As a field service engineer
I want to see my appointments
So I know where I need to be, and when.

This format may not work for every type of request. Try to use it and see if it makes sense.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

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