Measure the Journey not the Destination


Share on LinkedIn

In most of my sales and marketing work, I try to use only three different measurements to guide it. I have found that though we can create more these pieces to the measurement puzzle can cover a lot of ground without complicating things. The three different pieces are performance measures, impact measures and outcome measures.

Performance measures are about the work you did. They are composed of a number and a unit of measure. The number will give us how much and the unit will be the meaning of the what.


  1. Number of people visited
  2. Number of outgoing calls
  3. Number of mailings
  4. Response time on calls

Impact measures are about how the audience responded. They are also composed of a number and a unit of measure. The number will give us how much and the unit will be the meaning of the what.


  1. Number of people attended
  2. Number of website visits
  3. Number of messages returned.
  4. Number of product requests

These types of measures can be fairly simple, and most of us are familiar with them. Performance is what we do; impacts are what we hope for, but the third measurement of outcomes is much more difficult. They actually rests in the middle of this equation.

Performance = Outcome = Impact

For our performance to be effective, we require a change in someone or something. That difference is the result of our work or the outcome of it. Impacts are eventual outcomes. They are not the journey, they are the destination. If we intend to measure outcomes, there must be a way for us to measure change. Just because we make 100 calls does not mean we will get 10 people to attend our event. Outcomes give us the ongoing measurement on how we are achieving or not achieving the desired impact.

I use an approach called BACKS measure developed by Lucy Knight and mentioned in the book The Nonprofit Outcomes Toolbox: A Complete Guide to Program Effectiveness, Performance Measurement, and Results. We evaluate our outputs based on how the BACKS are improved. The acronym BACKS stands for Behavior, Attitudes, Conditions, Knowledge, and Status.

BACKS and the Description of Condition

  • Behavior: Repeated patterns of action
  • Attitude: The way you think and feel about someone or something
  • Measures: The state of a person, organization or a thing
  • Condition:
    • In Crisis Experience – The worst negative effects of behavior
    • Vulnerable – Worst behavior has been temporarily suspended
    • Stable – No longer teetering but could slip back without assistance
    • Safe – Job has been done and is performing satisfactorily
    • Thriving – Ideal condition
  • Knowledge: Amount of new information retained
  • Status: Change in social condition or standing

These are all very subjective. I usually describe the present condition or what I expect to see and then what I would like to see followed by what I would love to see. Using this outcome approach or a BACKS measurement allows for us to have a discussion about the present versus using lagging indicators. If interested to see how this works review the blog posts, The BACKS Approach to Building an Eco-System and Outcome-Based Persona.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here