Jan Bosch is a research center director, professor, consultant and angel investor in startups. You can contact him at jan@janbosch.com.


Rule 2: Focus on outcomes

Leestijd: 4 minuten

Humans are habit-driven creatures. Some research suggests that up to 95 percent of the day, the average human is purely on auto-pilot, executing according to the habits that have been built up over the years. Habits have many advantages, including not needing willpower to execute them, but of course, there are risks. The primary risk is that one easily gets stuck in operating in an activity-driven way rather than an outcome-focused way.

Once you’ve clarified your purpose (rule 1), the next step is to concretize this purpose in tangible, concrete and measurable outcomes. Failing to do so often leads to a major gap between what you say you do and what you actually do. An illustrative example is often found in startups. Every startup wants to grow its business, but translating that ambition into actual outcomes requires setting specific targets. Yesterday, I talked to a startup where the co-founder responsible for sales had a very concrete goal for the year: go from the current 4 paying customers to 26. You may debate if 26 is the right number, but it for sure is concrete and specific.

Translating your purpose into concrete, tangible and measurable outcomes allows you to evaluate whether your actions and tactics are having the desired effect. For example, most companies want to shorten the time to market for new functionality. Specifically for functionality realized in software, doing more frequent updates in the field is obviously the way to go. Transitioning from yearly to quarterly releases, however, also means that release testing, updating documentation and all other activities related to a release have to be performed four times as often. Initially, many companies look to maintain the same, frequently manual, processes. Soon, however, it becomes clear that simply executing these processes faster won’t result in the desired outcome as the overhead is too high, people complain about the repetitive nature of the work, and so on.

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