Beyond Features: Chapter V - Outcome Orientation

David Pereira
David Pereira
Product Leader, Content Creator, Speaker
Posted on
Jun 29, 2022
Updated on
Jul 17, 2022
Table of Content

Want to read the full Series? See here for the link to: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4

After an extensive workshop, Odin Enterprises had new directions. Lagertha managed to show Ecbert the importance of focus and clarity. Now, teams Jorvik and Kattegat know what to work on and, most importantly, what not to. The challenge lies in succeeding with the pressure on their shoulders.

Ivar and Björn understand that they will have to work differently than they used to. Both teams cannot assume impact without measuring the outcome. Until now, they’ve been acting as feature machines; now they’ve got to move from output maximizers to value creators. What frightens Björn and Ivar is that they don’t even know where to start; their hope lies on which cards Lagertha hides up her sleeve.

As the workshop concluded, Lagertha promised to help team Jorvik and Kattegat shape their work mode to increase the odds of creating value. Everyone expects her to open new perspectives and inspire the team to take a different course than they had so far.

Start With the End in Mind

The day after the workshop, Lagertha arrived earlier in the office; she knew she had to guide Ivar and Björn, Otherwise, they both would fail. She prepared a meeting room for a morning session with Ivar and Björn. She wrote the goals they agreed upon during the previous workshop on the whiteboard.

At 08:53, Ivar received a message at his desk: “Please come to Thor’s meeting room.” Shortly after, Björn arrived and got the same message. As they walked into Thor’s meeting room, they saw Lagertha smiling; they smiled back and asked, “What’s up?

Lagertha: “Today we set teams Jorvik and Kattegat in a successful direction. I want to share how you can lead this team’s successes.

Ivar: “That sounds good. I was about to ask you where we could start. Even though we have a goal, I don’t know where to begin.

Björn: “I have the same issue, and now our teams know we cannot work the same way, yet we have no idea how to work differently.

Lagertha: “No worries, we will figure that out. The most important thing is that we have a goal to pursue and support our CEO and key business stakeholders. Now, we need to work backward.

Ivar: “Yes, and how are we supposed to do that? For example, our goal is to become an attractive marketplace for partners. We agreed on two metrics: 50% of partners can activate their offerings without talking to anyone and reduce partner activation time by 70%—but measuring such metrics will take quite a while.” 

Björn: “That’s what baffles me as well. I fought hard for this; I always wanted to be empowered and make decisions to reach a goal instead of delivering features. But now that we’ve got a goal, I find myself staring at it, unable to decide which step to take. Now I feel the burden of accountability. We better figure out how to reach our goals.

Lagertha: “OK! Shall we take team Jorvik as a starting point?

Ivar: “That would be great.

Björn: “Sure. I can learn from it and then apply with team Kattegat.

Lagertha: “Have you ever heard about DMAIC?

Björn and Ivar looked puzzled. Lagertha looked at them and said: “That’s how we will change how we work for the better.” Lagertha went to the whiteboard and wrote: Define Measure Analyze Improve Control.

Ivar: “Sounds interesting, and we already have defined our goal, so I assume now we need to figure out how to measure it.

Lagertha: “Not so fast, Ivar. We know the end of the whole story. Now, we still need to define the metrics that will help us get there and define how to measure them as quickly as possible so that we can analyze and improve their results.

Defining Actionable Metrics

Björn and Ivar were curious about DMAIC but still skeptical about how to react quickly as this is unfamiliar territory to them. Lagertha put on her teacher’s hat and gave them a lesson about metrics.

Metrics are helpful when they are actionable. However, it’s easy to fall into traps while measuring results. For example, if Team Jorvik only measured partners that activate products, it would take too long for them to learn and improve. Such metrics are laggard ones; you only know what the problem is once it’s too late. However, when you ask what would lead to a specific result, you can define actionable metrics, which are the leading ones. 

The faster you learn, the sooner you succeed.

On top of laggard and leading metrics, Lagertha noted the importance of understanding the circle of influence. What can Odin Enterprises directly impact and what they can’t? For example, the conversion rate is something external; only end-users can decide whether to conclude the purchase or not; this would be an output metric. Meanwhile, Odin Enterprises can reduce the number of zero-result searches, and this would be an input metric as the influence lies internally and not externally.

After such a lesson, Björn and Ivar understood they had to come up with leading metrics and learn from results as quickly as possible. They also understood the importance of categorizing metrics into input and output. 

Feeling convinced, Ivar went to the whiteboard and tried to name the metrics he would use for team Jorvik. 

Output Metrics

  • Page views: number of leads arriving on the partner landing page
  • Conversion funnel: rate of leads converting into partners
  • Offer activation: rate of partners making their offers available at our marketplace
  • Sale activation: rate of partners who are effectively selling
  • Idle partners: rate of inactive partners 

Input Metrics

  • Number of partners contacted: total of potential partners reached
  • Search availability: rate of search results with the available offers
  • Partner form time: time required to fill out the partner forms
  • Average Partner Revenue: evaluate if the average revenue per partner grows at a monthly rate

Ivar looked at Björn and Lagertha as he enthusiastically explained what he meant by each metric. He told them he understood that output metrics would be the ultimate goal, but the actions taken by Odin Enterprises would be crucial to reaching the expected results. That’s why he would like to focus on input metrics that lead to desired results.

Lagertha looked surprised and excited about the results. She said, “Ivar! You amazed me with how quickly you got it! I am impressed by how quickly you could connect the dots and develop such valuable metrics. To make it even more actionable, I need to challenge one metric, Average Partner Revenue. It seems like a laggard metric and outside your control; how would that help you make decisions to reach your goal?

Ivar: “Lagertha, I imagine if partner revenue isn’t growing, it means something is going wrong, and I could act upon it.

Lagertha: “That’s exactly the point. What would that something be? It would help if you figured that before the problem happened. Revenue is a laggard metric that takes too long to measure.

Ivar: “Hmm... You’ve got me. So I want to measure the efficacy of our onboarding and product activation. If that fails, no revenue will come. So I would move this metric to output and create a new one for input metrics. Product activation time: time required to activate products. What do you think of it?

Lagertha: “Now you’ve got it. If product activation time isn’t satisfactory, you can act immediately and change the revenue fate.

Björn: “Great job Ivar! And I am with you on this journey. Some metrics imply we need to collaborate closely to work on them. We must work together if we don’t want to fail.

Ivar: “Thanks Björn. Now I understand the importance of focus. Reflecting on the metrics, I can understand the amount of work ahead of me to reach valuable results. I’d have no chance at success if I had to split my attention between two completely different audiences. I’m confident I know where to start.

Björn: “After looking into your metrics, I think I can do the same exercise for team Jorvik. Thanks, Lagertha, for enlightening us with your expertise. Honestly, we’d be doomed without you.

Lagertha: “You both are great. It’s just a matter of having the right components available. Now, I’m curious to see how team Jorvik and Kattegat will embrace the new way of working.

After this exchange, Lagertha left the room. Björn and Ivar knew what to do and where to start. They could see the light at the end of the tunnel. The only question was how fast they could learn and how to begin changing the way their Sprint would unfold. 

How will team Jorvik and Kattegat react to the empowerment they’ve received?

Until today, they’ve never measured the results and only put their energy into building features. Now, it’s different. They talked a lot about metrics but had no defined features.

In Chapter VI, Ivar and Björn will work on their first Sprint, focusing on the outcome. They will work on learning instead of building. The job won’t end after releasing features, but only after measuring results. Will they know how to do it? Wait for the next chapter to find out.

The story continues …

About the author

David Pereira
Product Leader, Content Creator, Speaker

Product Leader with 10+ years of everything. Currently located in Munich, Germany and leading a Product Management team at Virtual Identify My passion is helping product teams overcome their challenges and deliver REAL value faster. Almost every product team is trapped somehow, untrapping them is what drives me.

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