If you are seeking to solve a problem, what do you want to have happen?
This question applies whether it is a high level strategy for a multinational corporate, or someone thinking about an important telephone call.
There is no point in having an outcome that is not achievable.
A well formed outcome is one that is achievable and purposeful and which satisfies all the following six criteria:
1 Positive—it is expressed in positive language
For example, “I want my staff to leave on time”; not “I don’t want my staff complaining because they have to stay late”.
2 Size—it is suitably sized: not too big to be unachievable (or unaffordable), not too small to be pointless
This points up the fact that an activity is are often part of a larger activity which is part of… The “how do eat an elephant?” question is relevant here.
3 Control—it is within your control: it doesn’t rely on the agreement of a third party over whom you have no authority (in practice). The classic example is the mother whose outcome is for her daughter to tidy her room—that is not a well formed outcome!
So, any contributions needed from third parties must be known to be available.
4 Resources—you can identify, and have access to, all the resources needed to achieve the outcome (not just some of them).
5 Reality—you can state how you know the outcome has been achieved and, maybe, you will be able to measure it.
6 Context—you can identify, and be able to counter, any undesirable consequences (eg, effects on other areas and systems in a business; effects on suppliers, clients and others). If the cost of achieving the outcome is greater than the value of achieving it, it isn’t a well formed outcome.
by Jeremy Marchant . © 2015 Jeremy Marchant Limited . added 28 april 2015 . image: Free images
I know I go on a bit at times! This is the fifth of what will be many short pieces, each restricted to 300 words, and each about a key topic in the worlds of emotional intelligence or work or both. The title is named for Krzysztof Kieślowski, who directed a couple of excellent films in the eighties with the name, A short film about…