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Input, output, outcome – How we measure progress at C4E

Input, output, outcome – How we measure progress at C4E

Sometime last year, we stumbled upon the Input-Output-Outcome framework for tracking progress. I cannot trace it back to one individual or post, but it was a result of conversations with our friends, supporters, mentors, and people of the C4E Village. 

With any project / idea / initiative, there are three key indicators –

Input – the time, energy, money, or effort you will put in
Output – the tangible results of your input
Outcome – the desired end state

We’re not big on processes, tracking measures or ANYTHING that slows things down. Input-output-outcome worked for us because it’s simple and straightforward. It does not require us to have answers before starting out. And yet keeps us accountable as we go along. 

There are two times we fall back on input-output-outcome – in times of ambiguity, and in times of clarity. 


Ambiguity is inevitable when you’re taking a shot at multiple things and learning by doing. What do you do when you don’t know where you’re headed? Or when you’re unsure of the end state and desired outcomes? With most projects, we have a vague idea at best. 

So, when the only thing we do know is an idea that’s worth giving a shot, we rely on input and output. 

We ask ourselves just one question – have we given it a true shot? Now, a true shot could mean anything. I’ll give you an example – with C4E Spotlight Sessions, our offline event series, we have an audacious goal, and a vague idea on how to translate that into action. We don’t have ALL the answers. But we know that each attempt will take us closer to it. 

And so, we measure the input and output. 

Input – Invest time + money + energy into hosting sessions regularly
Output – Gathering 40 people for one event each month
The expected outcome? Clarity (in what we want the C4E Base to look like) and access to the right people (who would help us build this platform). 

When I shared this with some folks in the C4E Village, Pradeep Daniel gave me a slightly different perspective. He talked about how a vague idea of the outcome is a reasonable place to start. We may not have every facet defined. And so, the ambiguity is not in the outcome, but in the input and output. In other words – our desired outcome doesn’t change, but evolves as we experiment with our input. 


In this case, while the outcome is known, we can’t control it! 

So, step 1 – gauge input and output. They’re both in our control. The question we ask ourselves – is our input (and output_ in alignment with the outcome we hope to see? 

I’ll share an example. I’ve been chatting with 2 friends who want to start a podcast and interview fintech founders. They’re both young and their goal is to speak to as many people and learn from them. 

Their expected outcome is not a perfect podcast that helps them build a huge distribution. It is to create proof of work. 

A misalignment of input, in this case, would be perfecting each episode. Instead of focusing on quantity. 

Why did we want to document this? Three reasons – 

1/ Anyone reading this (you!) can now point gaps in our thinking, or share notes with us to do better and more.
/ If you decide to join us, you will be one step closer to knowing The C4E Way of thinking and doing.
3/ We’re inspired by orgs like Stripe and 37Signals that encourage a culture of writing. I (Chandni) often also go back to what Paul G says – writing is the best test you can put your ideas through. This definitely felt like a test 😀

I’m at cm@c4e.in. If this sparked a thought, write to us?


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