Measuring Success: Inputs vs. Outcomes

Someone I was leading once asked me, “Are we responsible for inputs or outcomes?”  What a great question.  I’ve chewed on it for a long time, and it’s made me re-evaluate my approach to leadership.  You see, I’m an outcome-oriented guy.  I like metrics, measurables, goals, and charts.  I like the idea of rewarding people who know their measurable outcomes and then exceed them.  I’m a firm believer that “measured performance gets improved performance,” but the focus of my measurement is usually the result (the outcome) rather than the cause (the input).  Below are a few of my thoughts about inputs and outcomes.

We live in an outcome-oriented culture. 

Even in church, we ask outcome oriented questions: “How many people attend your church?”  “How many small groups do you have?”  “What’s your budget?”

Outcomes are easier to measure than inputs. 

Outcomes are very tangible and relatively easy to chart.  Inputs can be more abstract and more difficult to track.  For example:  it’s simple to track how many people came to church, but it’s hard to track how many people were invited.  I’m toying with the idea of measuring how many invite cards we print and how many are taken.  Those measurements will force me to think differently about how I encourage people to invite their friends.

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Alan Danielson
Alan Danielson is the Lead Pastor of a church that’s probably a lot like yours. New Life Bible Church is a church of a few hundred people, but not long ago he was on the executive staff of Life.Church in Edmond, OK. Now, along with pastoring New Life, Alan is a consultant and has worked with many of America’s largest churches. Despite this, Alan has a passion for the small church. That’s why he lives by the personal conviction that no church is too small for him to work with. Alan founded Triple-Threat Solutions to help leaders of and churches of all sizes grow. Learn more from Alan at