Thursday, June 15, 2017

leadership dot #1840: beyond features

Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of providing language to help those doing the work understand the broader implications of their tasks and the competencies they are personally gaining from performing the tasks. But it is not enough to articulate the features of the work, rather you should aim to make the benefits and outcomes clear.

Per higher education marketing consultant Bob Sevier, a feature is a list of what you have: eg: the college library has 30,000 books. This is often what is promoted. But benefits describe why the feature is important from the perspective of the customer: students care about the number of books because they will have good research resources. An outcome is what happens as a result: students get into grad school because of their strong research background. Colleges promote the library, smart students want to know about their ability to research and parents are actually paying for the outcome.

It is easier, and thus more tempting, to stop after describing features: The student was a volunteer on the programming board, the employee performed data entry, etc. A more robust understanding comes when the benefits are outlined: the volunteer learned time management skills, the employee learned file structure in a data base, etc. Only when the outcomes are clear does the true value come to light: the time management skills learned by volunteering aid in the job performance after graduation or learning the file structure in data entry allows the employee to organize and develop other data collection methods elsewhere in the organization.

It's worth your time to peel back the layers until you get to outcomes to achieve true clarity in your messages and meaning.

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