Output or outcome?

August 7, 2007 at 8:23 pm 4 comments

I did appreciate the following quote from Alberto Gonzales, US Attorney General who when defending the work of his department said:

“Good, if you look at the output”

Regardless of what you think of Mr Gonzales and his department’s performance, I find it interesting the use of the word output – it has sneaked in from management-by-objective speak… but output is usually a poor measure for performance, as it represents the products or services produced. It is just like..

A press officer judges her performance by the number of press releases she writes
A training office judges his performance by the number of people that attends his training sessions

What is far more important are outcomes – the effects and changes that are a result of the outputs:

A press officer should judge her performance by how her press activities change the knowledge and attitudes of audiences
A training officer should judge his performance by how the people he trains uses what they have learnt

Like Mr Gonzales, most people prefer to look at outputs to judge performance as they are much easier to control and monitor compared to outcomes, which I’ve written about previously. But increasingly activities are assessed on what they achieve (outcome) rather than what they produce (output).


Entry filed under: Evaluation methodology, General.

Kidneys, Kylie and effects Changing behaviour – takes a long time?

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Outcome vs Output « ~all little things~  |  November 10, 2008 at 9:43 am

    […] still confuse me, alright.  But thats until i stumble myself to this site created by Richard Gaunt in London and Glenn O’Neil in Geneva.  The website said:  but output […]

  • 2. Tahir Anwar  |  January 13, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    how we can evalute a researcher?

  • […] because outputs are easier to control and measure than outcomes, does not make this acceptable practice and […]

  • 4. kebkab sirgew  |  February 21, 2012 at 8:20 am

    good one!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,160 other subscribers



%d bloggers like this: