In Search of the Optimal Outcome

In Search of the Optimal Outcome

Have your expected outcomes ever fallen short? If the goals you set for yourself stretch you outside your comfort zone, then of course they have! But the bigger question we should be asking ourselves is Why do we fall short?

In recent years, when my expected outcomes didn’t quite hit the mark, as opposed to getting frustrated and discouraged, I ask myself that very question, Why? What I have learned by asking why has been instrumental in helping me be more effective in both my personal and professional life. It allows me to sharpen my focus and be intentional about taking my time to think through different situations.

A couple of years ago a book by Ohio State’s Championship football coach, Urban Meyer, was recommended to me. In Above the Line: Lessons in Leadership and Life from a Championship Season, Meyer cited one of his coaching principles, E + R = O. You may ask, what in the world is this formula, especially in football? Well, in short, Meyer wants his players and staff to look at an Event(E) and assess how their Response(R) to a play will affect the Outcome(O). As I was reading it, I thought to myself, how can such a simple approach have such a profound impact? If it works so well on the grid-iron, then how might I apply it to my own life?

Now this is not a new viewpoint. Many of the well-known leadership and motivational gurus such as Jack Canfield, the world-renowned success coach, has taught it. In fact, this principle can be found as an undercurrent in writings going as far back to the human relations icons of Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie. Many times, it’s the simple things that are so effective if someone has the discipline to implement them!

Since Meyer’s book came out around 2015-16, I’ve been trying to refine and improve upon this technique. I’ve attempted to be disciplined enough to study and work at perfecting the process in business, academia, non-for-profits, church and family.

So how do I put this into practice? When faced with an event, or better yet, anticipating an event, I first take the time to ask myself, if “E” or the event happens, what would I want the “O” or outcome to be? Not just any outcome, but the optimal outcome for this event? That, for the most part, is fairly easy to determine.  Where the energy comes in is in figuring out the “R” or the response to equate to the desired outcome.  Let me show you what I mean:

Let’s say I have an appointment with a new prospect. At the end of that meeting, I have my optimal outcome in mind: To leave with a signed document to proceed. However, at that event, I am hit with some objections that derail me from achieving my optimal outcome. If I would have adequately thought through those objections in advance, and then positioned my conversation in such a way that eliminated the objections before they even appeared, then I may have increased my chances of achieving my desired outcome. Thinking, preparing, and practicing how you handle those possible objections is the “R” in the equation and that’s where the rubber hits the road. So how do we effectively work through the response?

For starters, as part of the continuous improvement training over the years, I have found the tried and true approach of asking why 5 times to get to the root cause of the problem or event works great. This is so effective because it helps eliminate preconceived responses or those that automatically come to mind. By the fifth time of really contemplating the root cause, the real reason for the objection surfaces. At this point, I now can structure my conversation to deal with those reason before they even surface.

Another approach I have found useful in defining the true cause of the objection is to follow Dale Carnegie’s process:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Identify the possible causes
  3. Select the primary or root cause (this is where asking why 5 times can help)
  4. List all possible solutions
  5. Select the best solution, the Response(R), that will lead to the optimal Outcome(O)

If one takes the time to slow down and having the discipline to prepare and think through the various scenarios of how your event could play out, the higher the probability your prepared Response(R) to that Event(E) will yield the Outcome(O) you desire.

Championship teams, elite special operations warriors, and industry winners constantly practice this methodology. However, take note, E + R = O can always be fluid and different objections, or responses will surface, at which point we start the process over again.

In life, practice, practice, and then practice some more to reach your optimal outcome. It’s a constant, ever improving loop. Think! Plan-Do-Check-Act, then repeat!

Guest Post by Chuck Ross

Chuck Ross is a Senior Partner at Ross Business Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in expense reduction, cost savings, and exit planning for professionals, business owners, CEO’s, and CFO’s. Chuck is in his 42nd year in business, twenty plus years as an owner of a manufacturing facility in north-central Indiana.

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