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Measuring Outcomes with the Mobius Framework

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Instead of feature farming, we need to deliver better outcomes and focus on the business results that we need to deliver. Measurements should provide insight into the outcomes because that is what is important. The Mobius loop can be used to define appropriate measurements.

In the blog post outcome metrics - measure what matters Gabrielle Benefield states that, instead of measuring throughput or output, we should be measuring outcomes.

The one thing very few organisations appear to be measuring are Outcomes. Outcomes are the value we create. They range from wanting to increase revenue for a company, to improving the usability and learnability of a product.

She mentions some of the benefits that organization can get from focusing on outcomes:

Now as we introduce outcome metrics into other organisations, we are finding it an epiphany and far more transformative than any Agile and Lean adoption we have seen. Product Backlogs are been thrown away as most of the items have no associated outcomes and many are pure waste.

Management is on board faster than ever as now they understand what the impact is to their bottom line. They can see how outcome generation reduces risk by testing that you are delivering value, or investing elsewhere.

Gabrielle Benefield gave a presentation about outcomes over outputs with the Mobius Loop at the Lean Kanban France 2014 conference. The Mobius loop is a lean framework that helps organizations create, measure and deliver outcomes:

Teams are typically focused on delivering more outputs rather than delivering the least amount that will help them achieve their outcomes said Gabrielle. When they are able to measure their outcomes, then can adapt to deliver the outcomes that are needed.

The Mobius loop starts with a problem. You need to deep dive into the problem to generate insights. Make sure that you really understand it to know how the problem impacts the target outcomes that you would like to deliver. Then you start thinking about the options on how to deal with the problem.

Gabrielle cited Chris Matts' and Olav Maassen's work on real options that was relevant to the options thinking in Mobius and to understand the conditions that help determine when to execute an option, and delaying commitment by testing ideas rapidly in the feedback loop on the right side of the Mobius loop.

Preferably you are measuring to have leading indicators, measurements that you can use to adapt and increase your outcomes. It is the why of metrics that matters, not the numbers but the thinking process when using the metric.

Gabrielle showed several examples of how the Mobius loop can be applied. In one example she discussed the problems that hospitals can have with infections. They will cause mortality to go up and drive up hospital costs. When deep diving into the problems it became clear that bacteria where brought into the hospital by patients. They where mainly spread by the hospital staff, medical waste and equipment. The top reasons why people got infected were dirty hands and bad disinfection.

The wanted outcome is to decrease infection rates and patient deaths, thereby saving billions in health care. Some of the options to reach this outcome are testing and isolating patients, hand hygiene improvement and post care follow up.

Based on the options they decided to do several experiments, like a hand hygiene pilot and research on post operation patient issues. Measurements were defined and baselines set to validate if the outcomes were reached.

When you take an outcome based approach you will need less planning as you will be steering using feedback from the measurements said Gabrielle.

One of the attendants asked where and how they could start with this outcomes based approach. Gabrielle said that talking about outcomes can help to create awareness and make the shift. Then you could look for problems where you can apply the Mobius framework.

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