Outcomes VS Outputs







Read Time

10 mins

Before we differentiate these two terms and talk about their differences let’s discuss what is output and an outcome. Outputs are the tangible services or products which result from the completion of activities. Outputs are those results that are attained instantly after implementing an activity. Whereas, outcomes are achieved short term and medium-term effects on the outputs. Outcomes are always achieved after outputs. 

Difference between outcome and output 

There are three key differences between outputs and outcomes. Let’s have a look:

  • The outputs are within the direct control of the program. Outcomes, on the other hand, are usually outside of the direct control of the program. We can say that outputs are controlled by the program and while outcomes are influenced by the program. 
  • Outputs are the immediate results after the completion of an activity. Outcomes usually occur at some point in the short-term to medium-term future.
  • Outputs relate to changes in abilities and the availability of new services and products. The outcomes, on the other hand, relate to changes in institutional performance, behavioural changes among individuals, or changes in practices and policies.  

The outcomes are intrinsic and the outputs are extrinsic. Outcomes are the benefits your clients get from your stuff. This begins with truly understanding your clients' needs—their difficulties, issues, requirements, needs, etc. Outputs are significant items, administrations, benefits, and incomes: the what. Results make implications, connections, and contrasts: the why. Outputs, for example, income and benefit, empower us to finance outcomes; yet without outcomes, there is no requirement for outputs.

Watermelon Effect

On its surface, the watermelon is smooth, gleaming, and green; however just underneath it is red and delicate. While the fruit may taste sweet and have striking shading, its water content is high to such an extent that it scarcely gives us any vitality whatsoever. The glaring difference of what we see from the outset look, against what lies at the very heart of what is being delivered. Taking account of the achievement of your outputs alone without considering the outcomes can turn out the watermelon effect. 

How teams should focus on Outcomes

The teams should focus on outcomes to make the best use of their talent and time. Introducing outcomes to the team can help in providing them motivation, clarity, and direction. One of the major issues for the management is improving productivity. The benefit of an organization or company relies on the improvement in profitability. Because of this reason, the managers are continually endeavouring to discover the approaches to accomplish the objective of upgraded efficiency. Focusing on the outcomes can also help in improving the performance of the company and gets the best from the employees. There should be proper work, proper planning, and in the end proper execution. The top and famous companies always focus on the outcome and make sure the hazard free and smooth operations to maximize their profit. Similarly, time and talent are valuable assets. Leaders who receive an outcome-based methodology guarantee that neither of these is squandered. This methodology centers individuals and groups on a solid outcome, not the procedure required to accomplish it. Pioneers characterize results and alongside directors, set boundaries and rules. Representatives, at that point, have a serious extent of independence to utilize their extraordinary abilities to arrive at objectives in their particular manner.

Example of Outcomes vs. Outputs

The outcomes are the results that the company or business wants to achieve whereas the outputs are the items or actions that contribute to achieving an outcome. Let’s understand this through a real-life example. There is a non-profit organization that decides to start a program through which they can help people to quit smoking. The team members conduct seminars and pass out brochures to create awareness to the people about the effects of smoking. The individuals give a comprehension of the fixation of smoking to individuals and help them in disposing of this negative behaviour pattern. They provide them with the knowledge of different quitting products and methods. The seminars are conducted in different places like schools, colleges, etc. The output here is the number of seminars taught, the number of participants that attend the seminars, and the number of brochures that are been handed out to people. These are all outputs not outcomes. There might be a case that a lot of people attend these seminars but didn’t stop smoking. This will not help you in achieving the results that you and your team are looking for. The outcome is computable tailored behaviour. The outcome is about taking account of how many people stopped smoking, and how many improved their health. 

Most of the companies that focus on productivity give importance to outputs rather than outcomes. Better measure your outcomes which is an orderly method to evaluate the degree to which a program has accomplished its planned results. Some of the important questions that are addressed using this approach are as follows:

  1. How this program helps in changing the lives of people, families, companies, and community?
  2. Does this program bring any kind of difference or not? 

Social service organizations take proper arrangements to measure outcomes. Some of the persuasive reasons to measure outcomes are as follows:

  • It helps in measuring the efficiency and usefulness of an intervention. Without measuring the outcomes it is difficult to identify that the program which we start is actually effective or not. It helps us in making improvements to make things better.
  • It can help in classifying the effectual practices. 
  • It can help us in improving the system by upgrading something.
  • It can also help in getting clarity of what we will achieve and what is the purpose of our program. 


In this article, you will get to know about the difference between outputs and outcomes. Outputs take account of all the organization’s activities and the end result. It does not focus on how a specific program helps people and whether it is effective or not.  On the other hand, an outcome entails achievement or performance that occurred because of the services your organization granted.