Introduced first in 1927 by the German physicist Werner Heisenberg, the uncertainty principle states that the more precisely the position of some particle is determined, the less precisely its momentum can be predicted from initial conditions, and vice versa.
In other words, it is impossible to precisely measure the values of certain pairs of physical quantities of a particle e.g. position and momentum. The uncertainty principle can be extended to other pairs of physical quantities like time and frequency in a musical note.
Outcomes and Output
To recap from his previous article Schrodinger’s Cat & OKRs:
- Objectives are outcomes you want to achieve.
- Key Results are the measurements (or actions) you take that will deterministically tell whether you achieved the objective or not.
- The Outcome and the Measurements together are the OKRs.
- Output is sum of all your actions that do not tell (exactly) whether the cat is dead or alive i.e. whether the outcome is achieved or not.
Uncertainty Principle Applied – Key Observations
I get this question on how to differentiate Output from Outcomes and how to measure them. Given the old adage that “What gets measured gets done”, here are my observations:
- The more you try to focus (try to measure) on Outcomes (OKRs), the less will be your focus on Output (i.e. less accurately you can measure it).
- The more you try to focus (try to measure) on Output, the less will be your focus on Outcomes (i.e. less accurately you can measure them).
- Measuring both Outcomes and Output together will result in measurement problems.
- To build growth culture, we should “reward” Outcomes and “recognise” Output.
- To have meaningful performance, coaching & career conversations , we should only link Output with Outcomes and measure the latter.
About OKR Bytes
Unconventional wisdom from practitioners’ perspective on writing, implementing and tracking OKRs, building an engaging performance culture, measuring and tracking performance, measuring and tracking culture, pulse surveys and more.
Huminos is a comprehensive OKR and Growth Culture software that helps your employees to achieve impactful outcomes, even if they are working remotely.
- Aspire for growth with OKRs and align your people
- Inspire your people continuously with an engaging growth culture of conversations, coaching and celebrations
- Measure growth & culture – continuously, reflect & calibrate your people’s performance.