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Being Too Outcome Oriented

If you'd have told me when I began my consulting career that I'd ever suggest that one could be too outcome oriented, I'd have dismissed the idea as absurd. After all, its results that matter most, right? Achieving goals, successes, breakthroughs, and accomplishing objectives are paramount, especially in business, yes.  However, as results take center stage at the end of the day, it is true that you can be too outcome or result oriented.


This has nothing to do with doing everything within your ability in the service of reaching goals or achieving objectives. Always strive for the outcome, but maintain your focus on the required actions that get you there.  You've seen examples of individuals and teams that are too outcome oriented. The sales professional so focused on hitting their quota that they make strategic errors that mess up a deal. The design team that is so obsessed with developing a winning ad campaign that they become tense and lose their creative edge. At its worst, being too outcome oriented drives dishonest behaviors, and we hear more stories about this in business than at any other time in history.


I don't love to use sports metaphors in writing, but I can't resist this one. As an alumnus of Florida State University I am very passionate about FSU football (though I am terribly disappointed in the off the field incidents.) College football, and sports in general, is an arena where nothing truly seems to matter except the outcome. You win. Or you lose.


But FSU Head Coach Jimbo Fisher, espouses an uncommon philosophy to his team in achieving wins and losses. He calls it "not being outcome oriented." His approach is to stop thinking about the results or the outcome of the game, and concentrate on the performance of every player during every play, and to behave that way in practice and preparation. In essence, that means to drive for results but focus on the process. Drive for results, but focus on the process.


During the 2013 National Championship Game in the Rose Bowl, we found ourselves down by 3 touchdowns. I mean they. The team found themselves down by nearly 3 touchdowns. (My wife sometimes reminds me that I don't actually play in the game, which often comes as a shock.) No one had ever overcome a deficit like that in a national title game in the modern era of college football.


Coach Fishers halftime message was that team had been too outcome oriented. Coaching that they needed to stop thinking about winning the national title and start focusing on playing football to the best of their ability on every play.


FSU came back and won the National Championship. I've abbreviated my favorite quotation from Coach Fisher here, "As crazy as it sounds, we don't care what the score is...we give [our best] effort on every play, and at the end we look at the results, and we don't become a result oriented team..."


Take a moment to explore and identify where you or your team might have become too outcome oriented? So focused on the results you want to achieve, that it's gotten in the way of your preparation or performance? It happens all the time.



A slice of life balance           

  • Breathing is underrated. Not the kind of breathing that happens unconsciously, but breathing intentionally. I've not been successful in my efforts in meditation, (I think it's the cure for writers block, because when I try not think about anything, I have a million thoughts). But as little as 60 seconds of breathing can help you to you re-energize or re-focus during the day. Take 60 seconds and breathe in for a count of 3 and breathe out for a count of 6. See if that works for you.