08 January 2020 – I don’t know about you, but after I came back from the festive break, things felt a bit same-old, same-old. Nothing about 2021 felt like a new year.
We were back into a national lockdown, the vaccine deployment is happening but it’s likely to be slow and protracted, and the recovery of the UK economy feels like a distant dream.
But, as entrepreneurs, there is a way that we can restore that feeling of forward momentum. A way to take back control amidst all this chaos in the world. And that is to move into the new year with renewed vigour and purpose.
At BigChange, we have started thinking about our outcomes for 2021. Outcomes differ from outputs because they really describe the impact our business makes in the world. An output may be your company turnover, or how many pieces of software you sell. An outcome is about how useful that software was to your customers, or how valued you are as an employer.
When you begin thinking in terms of outcomes, instead of outputs, the world becomes a lot more interesting, and full of context.
This week, I put together a one-pager listing the outcomes I would like BigChange to aim for in 2021. I have shared them with the whole company, so that we all know where we’re heading, and can start plotting a course to get there.
I began by thinking about what success looks like for me in 2021. Then, I searched for the metrics that would reflect progress.
For example, I want to see a marked increase in the number of Green Flag reports generated by the team. Green Flags are used to highlight exceptional performance here at BigChange. They are created by the team for the team, and showcase people that are going the extra mile for the company and our customers. You can read more about the scheme here.
At the moment, we average seven Green Flags each week. Imagine if we doubled that? That would not only represent a huge boost to morale, increase community spirit, and add to our culture of positivity, it would also mean that our customers are consistently getting an outstanding service that goes way above and beyond what they expect.
I also want BigChange to be recognised as a top UK employer. We have already been given two stars through the Best Companies to Work For initiative. I want to make that three stars this year. Again, looking at outcomes, that would not only mean that employees are happy and engaged, it would mean we are more likely to hire incredible new people too, and that employee retention is likely to remain high.
This focus on outcomes has helped me really drill down to what matters to the success of BigChange, both now and long into the future. It’s not just about me and the wider leadership team telling our colleagues what numbers we want to hit, it’s about creating a shared vision for everyone in the business that is clear, concise, and inspiring too. It’s easy to state goals based on outputs – invest more in marketing, make more sales – and of course we do need those metrics too. We are going to increase our investment in sales and in marketing over the coming year but we are also going to look at what outcomes we want to see from that spend. The two things go hand in hand.
Of course, listing your outcomes is the easy bit: achieving those goals is harder. Now that my outcomes have been shared with the whole team, I’m ready to start working with each team on how they can make progress, helping every individual feel accountable for their role in our success. I know I say this a lot, but we are nothing without our people.
I may have started 2021 with a sense of déjà vu but focusing on these outcomes has really inspired me, and sparked so many new ideas and strategies. It’s easy to feel powerless when the country remains in the grip of a global pandemic, but this exercise helped me to refocus and look at 2021 with renewed optimism. I hope it will help you too.