Measure Outputs not Actions

I think that if you ask smart people what should people and startups do if they want to be successful many of them will tell you that you have to measure your goals. This idea takes many different forms including having SMART goals, OKRs, 360 reviews, habit trackers, etc. I think all of these management tools are super useful, but I will like to point out one thing. I believe that it is crucial that whatever it is that we measure that we focus on measuring our output rather than just our actions.

I’ve realized that I tend to create and finish tasks that really add little value to my end goal. These tasks or small wins tend to be relatively easy to complete, and they mostly give you a sense of accomplishment that makes you feel good. A classic example in my case has been “send an email” to X person. Although sending emails is clearly important, it is rarely a goal in and of itself. Usually sending an email is part of a larger purpose like getting someone to use your product, getting a job, arranging a meeting, etc. Therefore, lately I’ve been trying to reframe all of my tasks in terms of the goals that they will help me to accomplish. For example, instead of writing down in my journal email 10 people I write schedule 2 calls with prospective clients. This reframing focuses on the desired outcome rather than on a metric that might not be the best proxy for what you want to measure.

I’ve found this to be harder than it seems because my need for short-term gratification is powerful. Nevertheless, it has also been quite rewarding because I’ve seen that by focusing on my output I am putting progress over motion.