They say politicians speak in terms of outputs and not outcomes. Because outputs are smooth and easy to promise because they rarely transform societies. Output promises fail the “social impact and economic transformation” test. Simply put, manifestos that detail outputs are like a collection of promises in the form of stories.
Take an example of the markets that have been constructed by the government across the country. If you travel to any district, you are likely to see a big public market building that is underutilized or unoccupied. Thanks to coronavirus, the local governments have explanations for the emptiness. But remember, many of these markets were constructed as part of the government’s plans to support agriculture by providing a platform for farmers to sell their produce.
This was a novel idea.
But as is the case always, it failed at implementation. The planners focused on outputs – one big public market in every district, instead of the outcomes, the occupancy rate of the public markets in every district.
These two are different. You improve what you measure. The problem with outputs is they drive efficiency. You now have a monster market, but few people, if any want to occupy them. There are many reasons for this:
- High rental prices for the stalls. Because the implementers were looking at a wrong measure – have a market constructed, they did not consider the affordability of the market by the locals. In the end, many traders prefer to trade outside the market than inside since doing so makes no business sense.
- Location of the markets in the wrong sites. When you focus on outputs, you may forget about conducting a market survey to get feedback from the intended beneficiaries, customers, and users of the convenient location. As a project implementer, you get that narrow focus on having the output but not the outcome. You will then find a market that is empty because customers find it difficult to access. When it comes to markets, convenience is everything.
I could go on and on. You get the point. Avoid emphasizing outputs.
In management or legal consulting firms, many people measure outputs like the number of proposals are sent out, cold calls made, emails sent, man-hours worked, and reports issued out. As you can see, such measures cannot help your firm grow.
To win, you must instead measure outcomes – for example, proposal response rate, cold calls conversion rates, email response rate, productivity rate, revenue generated, and customer testimonials received for the work well done. If you send out 10 proposals, how many of those win business? That is a measure of progress.
Anyone can send out proposals. Even a primary child or an illiterate person can send out proposals. However, it takes someone brilliant to send a proposal that wins business. To win business, the person who prepares a proposal must first research about the prospect, understand their business strategy, competition, challenges, and the key people. And where possible, attempt to make contact to discuss further the prospect needs even before sending a proposal since no man proposes to a woman they have never met! once this understanding is gained, then a proposal – a summary of the understanding of the customer needs – can be written. That way, the prospect expects the proposal. The chances of success are high.
However, people who measure outputs keep churning out proposal documents that are of poor quality because they are abstract as they do not address the client’s needs.
As a voter, be careful this year. Read the manifesto of the aspirants. Are they promising outcomes or outputs? Click To Tweet Remember, Uganda can grow if our leaders promise and deliver outcomes. We need results that make sense and transform communities.
It is not about the number of hospitals, but the patient recovery rate i.e. the number of sick people who visit the health facility vs those who get treated and recover well. It is not about the number of roads, but the road utilization rate. It is not about the number of schools constructed, but the employment rate of the finalists. When a country focuses on outcomes, they improve resource usage, reduce corruption, hold leaders to account, and generally fast track economic recovery.
Let this be a year of outcomes NOT outputs. Make sure you hold that politician to translate their manifesto and aspirations to outcomes. That is what Ugandans need. Not rhetoric outputs which anybody can promise only to have roads no one uses, hospitals that lack medicines and qualified people, schools without teachers and markets that are not occupied.
It is for this reason, I stopped writing all my qualifications after my name. I realize it is not about outputs. But outcomes. With my degrees and certifications, what social impact have I made with them? That is the key question. How many people have I impacted and transformed? It is not about the research papers published, but how many people have quoted my research papers? Even on this blog, I measure the feedback rate. How many people inbox me to say thanks for this article. That is the focus. Getting academic qualifications is good. But it is just a means to an end. Always focus on the end game. After all, the objective of any football game is scoring more goals than the other team. That is what winning is all about.
For God and My Country.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.