Why would anyone care about outputs and outcomes?
The truth is most people don’t care about outcomes and outputs. But we do care. Clients talking outputs and outcomes are what drives Red Potato.
What do we mean by outcomes
But we are getting a bit ahead of ourselves. What do we mean by outcomes? Well we think it is about long term impact. For example, long term change maybe about helping people to gain employment and get control of their lives, which in turn may help them get more involved in their local community. This in turn makes the community stronger, and can help the community become more resilient and less prone to be targeted by “mindless crime”.
So what are we to do? Often change only becomes apparent some time after initial work, the first step. For instance it might be about encouraging someone to attend a course to help with their maths – and crucially documenting and quantifying the issue. And then the next step, perhaps it is endorsement for the campaign coupled with more data. And then? Well, perhaps it is not another step forward. Perhaps it is a step backward. What does that mean? It could mean a target is missed, perhaps the “drop-out” rate from the course spikes, or something comes out from “left field” and de-rails your project – for instance changes in Universal Credit have effected many people in different ways.. But we still record the data, we still keep track of whether the maths course is helping people gain employment and take charge of their lives.
That is why the milestones and outputs are important. Because they can help to track progress and over time by keeping the measures consistent, we can measure what is working.
The answer is not a spreadsheet
This is where things get exciting. Or not. Your clients, be they Board members, elected officials, senior leadership or members of the public won’t thank you for giving them another report with an Excel spreadsheet! You need to tell the story of the community you serve combining data with real life interviews from real life customers. This is what Welwyn Hatfield Council did to encourage more people to become involved in the housing tenants group. Crucially the animation was used by the tenants to encourage greater involvement and changes in behaviour. So people can and do care about YOUR outputs and outcomes!