December 19, 2018

Deliverables are not results

Businesses don’t hire people like us because they want web pages or subscribe buttons or welcome videos or gorgeous logos or cool illustrations or whatever your work product might look like.

They hire us because they believe that doing so will lead to a desirable business outcome.

Just to be clear, here’s a long list of business outcomes from a great book by Jill Konrath:

If in a preliminary meeting with a true economic buyer I can’t uncover a clear success metric - even if it’s intangible, like morale or loyalty - I would either decline the engagement or suggest a preliminary discovery engagement.

Can firms make projects work without knowing what the client’s desired business outcome is up-front? Sure, that’s how most folks I talk to operate.

And if you have great instincts and are good with people and operate in an extremely narrow space, you can even hit home runs on a reasonably regular basis.


Imagine a world where you and your client agree up-front that the goal of the project is to, say, increase employee productivity by 25%.

If you believe that you can do it, then you can give them a price for that outcome.

If they accept your price, then you can just get to work achieving that however you see fit.

When you reach the goal, you’re done and the client is satisfied.

(And OBTW - they’ll be satisfied even if it only took you a weekend and your price was $1M)