Result-Driven Thinking Gone Wrong

In a business environment, business KPIs are often seen as the end result. However, result-driven thinking can influence a digital project in a bad way as well.

Attila Tóth

Digital Strategist

A common, but unnoticed mistake dominates approaches to digital projects, and that is result-driven thinking. Focusing on results leads you to forgo logic and instead make a decision based on individual outcomes.

Ending well doesn’t mean all is well.

Before you knit your brows, let me be clear: I am a great believer in result-oriented planning and thinking. However, while this mentality seems notably straightforward, I learned a mistake that can utterly undermine any digital project.

This mistake focuses only on the end results or end KPIs. As you may know by now, I like to explain things with analogies, so here you go:

Imagine that you plan to go on a well-deserved, resting vacation to Hawaii. As this being the end result you want to achieve, this is what you tell to your travel agency. Now, let me give you two example scenarios of how this holiday can go down the wrong path.

Here is the first scenario: This is your first trip to fly outside your home country after the two years of the pandemic. When the travel agency asks for your passport, you realize that it has expired. Most probably you’ve been planning your vacation and your absence months in advance, but now you have to make sudden changes in your calendar to postpone the trip.

Second scenario: This is your first trip that is longer than 12 hours. When you board the plane, you are dressed for a hot summer vacation. During the long flight, you get a cold due to the low temperature in the plane; thus, you start your long awaited Hawaiian holiday crawled up in the hotel bed with a fever.

In both of these scenarios, reaching the end result probably doesn’t reflect what you had in mind.

Outcome-oriented thinking doesn’t take into consideration processes, behaviors or other external factors.

In a business environment, many times, the end result is a business KPI, like achieving a high return on investment or growing the income with a certain percentage.

These KPIs are crucial, even if they’re not enough. You need to be able to translate them into intermediate goals. These intermediate goals are often neglected because they don’t look directly connected to the end goal. But they actually even out the gaps between goals you are working on this year and next year and your longer-term lifetime goals.

Intermediate goals are the pathway to your final milestone.

For example, let’s say the end goal is to grow e-commerce sales by 10%.

Using traditional thinking will mean that you will likely increase your sales and marketing efforts.

However, this might cost you more money than it should if you don’t focus on intermediate goals like decreasing the number of people who abandon their carts or reducing the time required to make a purchase, just to name a few.

Focusing on the end result is essential, but it is not enough. You need to know what intermediate results are required, even if these goals don’t look directly connected to your final KPIs.

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