Saturday, March 27, 2010

Are we responsible for effort or outcome?

Seeing another interesting cartoon of Leunig in the Age with the following words in it, inspired me to say a few words about outcome: "The world is full of outcomes. Each day delivers more. At breakfast time there’s only two. By lunchtime there are four. By dinnertime there will be eight. At bedtime there’s sixteen; So many, many outcomes and I don’t know what they mean. And so we live our lives away. With outcomes big and small. Until the final outcome comes. With no outcome at all."

Outcome is an overused term in our daily lives. It may mean results, consequences or in more scientific terms a phenomenon that follows and is caused by some previous phenomenon.

In Information Technology or Computing fields, outcome could be the result of the performance of a function or process in the system and it is usually measurable and mapped to service levels.

In psychology, it is linked to many factors but two important ones highlighted by the grandfather of modern psychology (William James)attitudes and beliefs obviously play an important role. For example, about attitudes, he said "It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult undertaking which, more than anything else, will determine its successful outcome”. And about beliefs he said "Our belief at the beginning of a doubtful undertaking is the one thing that assures the successful outcome of any venture”. Let's remember that James was famous with his pragmatic approach in philosophy.

From quality perspective Edwards Deming created the principle that "we should work on our process, not the outcome of our processes”. So my question stands as whether we are responsible for effort or outcome; or both or none of them?
I'd also be interested in your views in my question here.


  1. A general idea, not fixed outcome would allow for greater creativity and open more doors.

    We put fort the effort only when we are absolutely certain of the outcome we want.

    What do we intend to accomplish is a more apt question before we go and put the effort.

    You do not have to put fort the effort. You do have to monitor whether the people you have assigned the tasks are doing what they are supposed to do.

  2. Let me put it this way . . . I see our son Alan coming on his own feet without support towards me soon.

    There's no philosophy aspect in it. He's just doing it and working out a better approach and stronger muscle and balance control after each single fall back.

    The quality aspect is immanent whereas there's yet to decide whether he might get along with a clumpy walking style or needs a distinguished cat walk walking approach later. But for now . . . just walking will do it.

    I see the development now every day.

    He really wants it. That is crucial me thinks.

    During our stay in China I really wanted to communicate with my relatives. My Mandarin (and even Cantonese) improved significantly. My relative's English likewise.

    They also really really wanted it. I think they like me.

    So if you really like/love something and following that want something . . . you find a way.

    To answer your headline: Yes, we are responsible. Because we get the "response" according to our effort AND outcome.


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