Delivering Results… the tension in Outcome vs Process

When thinking of the business need to deliver results I seem to be drawn toward the value of relationships. Being results driven (or outcome focused) can often seem like it would be to the detriment of people, relationships and their development.


In his article – In Sports, Results Matter, But to Get Them, Ignore Them Jim Taylor, Ph.D consultant to the United States and Japanese Ski Teams and former U.S. top 20 ranked alpine ski racer writes:

“Focus on the process and the results will come…there are a lot of misconceptions about  the role of results in achieving your athletic goals. Of course, you need good results to be successful, but the question is how to go about getting those results.”


There in lies the paradox of an Outcome vs Process approach to success:

“An outcome focus involved focusing on results, rankings, and beating others”


Delivering results is not about focusing on an outcome

Here the focus is on things outside of your control (from a business perspective this may be stocks market fluctuations, customer attrition, political impact [dare I say Brexit])….. where as

“A process focus involves focusing on what you need to do perform your best such as preparation, technique, or tactics”


So a contrasting perspective to the outcome focus, here the focus is entirely on you and what you can do and influence (from a business perspective this may be the skills and ability of your team or the systems you use)

Jim goes on to share – “when you focus on the process, you increase your chances of getting the results you want


Obviously results do matter and we appreciate they may factor in your daily thoughts. My advice is to acknowledge the desired results (growth, sales, acquisitions, change etc) but consider the process to achieving these more deeply. At the centre of this is bound to be people and more accurately relationships…

This 2012 Olympic Games video from IOC Media highlights the views of 4 creditable figures from the world of sports and coaching on performance, results and relationships.   ‘What are you looking for from your coaches (athletes) to develop further?’

Sergey Bubka – winner of six consecutive IAAF World Championships, an Olympic gold medal and broke the world record for men’s pole vault 35 times. The first pole vaulter to clear 6.0m and 6.10m.

“there’s something in side where I want to always grow, I’m never satisfied…I want to do better today than yesterday”


Sir Clive Woodward – former rugby union player and coach. He was coach of the England team from 1997 to 2004, managing them to victory in the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

“I like to see athletes really kind of question at times what you are providing as a coach… the more they really engage in this process with the coach the more knowledge they have, I think the better chance they have of being successful”


Kobe Bryant – former professional basketball player. He played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association now a coach.

“the best thing for me was always guidance…. It wasn’t a coach that said do this do that, it was more of a coach that gave me a kind of a framework and then gave me the tools to be able to then mentally and physically to be able to make the right choices and the right decisions”


Mike Krzyzewski – head men’s basketball coach at Duke University, where he led them to five NCAA Championships, 12 Final Fours, 12 ACC regular season titles, 15 ACC Tournament championships.

“Two is better than one if two can act as one… my overall goal is to develop a relationship with each individual player where we will be one…”


For me the message is clear – Development delivers results. What you do from a ‘process’ perspective to support the achievement of your results.

  • What do you do that creates a philosophy of growth, ‘being more today than yesterday’ and an environment for this to occur. How are you igniting this desire within your team?
  • Where are the opportunities for open dialogue with you the manager (leader/coach) to question the process, the goals, desired results? How engaged in the journey are your team?
  • Are you providing guidance, frameworks for development, allowing people to explore and work with these. Where is accountability for decision making?
  • How are you getting to know, connect with and understand the individuals within your team. How are you helping team members to do this for each other (what makes them tick)?


Results matter, but people and relationships matter more…



by Kurt Lindley





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