As a business advisor, commercial lawyer and owner manager I have seen all kinds of outcomes.  Expected.  Unexpected.  Unforeseeable.  Great.  Terrible.  Indifferent.  Here are some of my thoughts on outcomes in business.

Outcome is a combination of five main elements:

  • Circumstance – factors beyond our control that we inherit, or are born, arrived or channeled into, or are imposed on us.
  • Luck – factors beyond our control and often beyond the control of others that might or might not be predictable or calculable and can be good, bad or indifferent.
  • Choice – factors resulting from our decisions, actions, inaction, ethics or worldview.
  • Opportunity – the accumulated total of prior Circumstance, Luck and Choice at a point in time that creates an opportunity for us to exercise Judgement.
  • Judgement – the ability to be aware of Opportunity and all that has gone into it, and to make good or bad choices based on that awareness, either at a point in time or over time.

Important things to remember about Outcome in business:

  • When Outcomes are good, it is common in human nature to overly credit Choice and Judgement and overly discredit Circumstance and Luck.
  • When Outcomes are bad, it is common in human nature to overly credit Circumstance and Luck and overly discredit Choice and Judgement.
  • It is more common in human nature to value the power of personal Choice for oneself than it is to accept personal responsibility for a negative Outcomes associated in whole or in part with a personal Choice.
  • Attributing disproportionate credit, discredit, adulation or blame to any element of Outcome is damaging and can have a compounding effect.
  • Some Circumstance can be overcome, either individually or collective; some cannot.
  • Some Circumstance is apparent; some not until after the fact; some might never be fully appreciated.
  • Luck trumps all other elements.
  • Luck is a lens that can make bad Judgement appear good and good judgement appear bad.
  • Some Luck is apparent; often not until after the fact; some might never be fully appreciated.
  • Choice is as important as every other element.
  • There are usually a variety of options available for Choice, but not always.
  • Inaction is a Choice.
  • Ethics and worldview are a Choice and have a real effect on Outcome.
  • Judgement is a combination of both awareness and decision making; of these, awareness is more important and less appreciated.
  • Judgement is a skill, so it is discernible, and can be studied, learned and taught (consciously or unconsciously), measured and predicted; some of us are better at it than others.
  • If there are no negative consequences for Judgement and also no positive consequences for good Judgment, then there is no disincentive for bad Judgement and no incentive for good Judgement.

Some concluding thoughts

Business is not a game, but it is a competition. 

Like all meaningful competitions it requires a combination of Circumstance (rules), Luck (chance), Choice (player decisions), Opportunity (a moment in the game which can lead to advantage or disadvantage), and Judgement (accumulated wisdom and skill). 

Outcomes will be good for some (winners) and not so good for others (losers).

Repetitions of the competition create opportunities for Judgement to improve, for the better players to prove themselves, and for other players to fall by the wayside.

Business needs a certain amount of competition to thrive.  Learn to compete.  Seek to compete.  Consciously complete.  Teach your business to compete.  Continuously monitor, assess and reassess Outcome.  That should lead to sustainably better Judgement and Outcomes.

© Phil Thompson –