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Book Of The Month - Pursuing Enterprise Outcomes

Maximizing Business Value and Improving Strategy for Organizations and Teams

All executives and senior management responsible for compliance will be well aware of how difficult it is to ensure that value creation is protected and progress is being made towards stakeholder objectives. These outcomes are often not well articulated and even when they are the means by which outcomes are achieved are usually not. Focus on effort over results is the name of the game while the board sits hoping for the best. Is there a better way to ensure outcomes are achieved?

"It's a common trap to assume that outcomes are known and a mistake to place all emphasis on the outputs of work." – Alex Yakyma

It is relatively easy to identify and manage outputs to ensure that they are on time, on budget, and on spec. This domain is well understand with vast amounts of knowledge, expertise, and practices to improve the certainty that outputs are created with a defect rate of 3.4 defects per million opportunities (i.e. six sigma). We are very good at doing this or at least know how to do it.

However, when it comes to realizing outcomes this is not as easy and is often left to chance. Companies hope that their good intentions and hard work will produce the outcomes they are looking for. However, the road of good intentions often does not deliver what we want or what we need.

Alex Yakyma in his book, "Pursuing Enterprise Outcomes" unpacks the nature of outcomes, how they are created, and how to improve the probability that you produce the outcomes you have targeted. This is a world that is not as well defined, often non-linear, and always in the presence of uncertainty. Yakyma provides a comprehensive framework that adds needed structure to this domain as presented in his book where he covers:

  • The killer of Organizational performance

  • How to Uncover Disconnects

  • In Pursuit of Outcomes

  • The Science and the Art of Probing

  • The Mystery of Business Value

  • Complex Bottlenecks and Emergent Solutions

  • Strategy and Leverage Points

Excerpts from the book:

  • Complex tasks progress at the speed of managing unknowns. Doing the wrong work faster is false progress. For complex tasks, the ability to navigate is more important than velocity.

  • Behaviours in a complex system can only emerge. Any attempt to "design" behaviour to match an expectation will only result in waste.

  • To succeed with the ultimate outcome, all lower-level outcomes need to have owners who hold responsibility for the outcomes, not outputs. A disconnect anywhere in the outcome chain easily jeopardizes the ultimate outcome of the task.

  • Outcomes provide meaning and structure to business value. Business value helps determine how effectively the outcomes are achieved.

  • Strategy is the way in which system behaviour can be vectored toward a favourable outcome.

What I like about this book:

  • The concepts of outcome chains and connections, the emergence loop, and the nature of outcome uncertainty provide a solid structure to explore how to better advance outcomes.

  • The author provides many good examples that help illustrate key concepts and principles.

  • Every chapter has exercises that teams can work on to help reinforce learning and stimulate discussion.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is responsible for the creation of outcomes related to regulatory, safety, security, quality, environmental and operational objectives.



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