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What is outcome focusing/thinking ?

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  • What is outcome focusing/thinking ?

    I recently re-read the last chapter of the GTD book 'the power of outcome
    focusing' . As a side note theres a subsection 'the significance of applied outcome thinking'. I'm a little unsure what it all means.

    Firstly the basic question: is 'outcome focusing' and 'outcome thinking' the same thing?

    Secondly : how is this meant to be implemented ?

    Take an example - suppose I have to do a pHD project in computer science
    (maybe 800 hours of work in total), how am I meant to use the power of outcome focusing?

  • #2
    Reticular Activating System

    Perhaps others can elaborate better than I, but Allen uses outcome visioning as a way to train your brain to subconsiously define success and create success based on visualization.... its the essence of "make it up, make it happen."

    "write it down make it happen" was a great book that I recently finished that talked all about this....

    At the Roadmap david talked about the Reticular Activating System and how it was key to Getting Things Done....


    • #3
      Thanks for the response. Apologies but more confused now, probably because I haven't read the book you mention + not been to the roadmap. I do have guesses as to what it might mean, but clarification would help.


      • #4
        As Stephen Covey puts it, "Begin with the end in mind."

        "Outcome Thinking" means to visualize your final outcome and work towards that. This is as opposed to the trap of constantly working on daily tasks without periodically taking the time to re-align yourself with your longer-term goals and intentions.

        At least, that's how I understand it.


        • #5
          Brent , thanks for your response.

          Yes: my guess as to what was meant was visualisation. However in that chapter in the book, David doesn't specifically say anything along the lines of
          'close you eyes and imagine...' . This isn't a criticism of Davids book of course, rather a note that I may be in error in taking it only as meaning visualisaiton.

          Anyway, assuming it does mean visualisaion in practical terms another guess would be along the lines of maybe twice a day, 10 minutes a 'session', maybe in a quiet room , visualising the outcome?

          Is it better to visualise an very exagerrated version of success (e.g. with the pHD example , to visualise gaining a noble prize, with say Newton & Einstein applauding while you get the medal [!]) or a realistic one , say giving a presentation to two of your tutors?

          Its of course easy to think of different imaginary 'scenes' - so another question would be 'is it better to stick with one scene or vary it?'

          Would be interesting to hear from anyone who has actually tried this process and if it worked (or not) for them.


          • #6
            That's similar to what I think of when I think of focusing on an outcome. However, in my experience, it's more valuable to imagine a very specific outcome.

            OK, an example: I'm involved in a hobby operating system project, and I recently volunteered to host an online "class" introducing programmers to the operating system's programming environment.

            In "Beginning with the end in mind," I imagined teaching the class successfully and enjoyably. I thought about what specifically I would present, questions that the attendees might ask, etc. I saw potential gaps in my material, and filled those in.

            In other words, instead of fantasizing vaguely about success, I imagined a specific successful outcome that I can work towards.

            Does that help?


            • #7
              Brent, thanks again

              > Does that help?
              Well it sounds like intelligent preparation / rehersal and of course is commendable. I sort of imagined (non pun intended) visualisation to be closer to a self directed (detailed not vague) daydream rather than intelligent rehersal. as 'a way to train your brain to subconsiously' as gtderic put it.

              I've just done some more web searches and now found:

              whick looks like someones notes from a roadmap seminar. That refers to
              something like mental programming and says

              >Programming tools:
              > Images: Outcome focusing, visualiztoin [sic], affirmations, ideal scenarios

              which suggests visualisation & outcome focusing maybe are not identical.

              In all though, I've searched on this site & on the web but haven't been able to find anything along the lines of "this is what David means by (1) outcome focusing and (2) outcome thinking" .
              The chapter doesnt mention visualisation, but if David has that in mind too, then we should add (3) visualisation. Try to clear up what each of these phrases mean, as a starting point.

              Apologies if I'm sounding slow-witted on this. Until theres agreement on
              the specific meanings of (1) - (3) I'm not sure if this thread can progress forward.

              [...OK: an idea: lets try closing our eyes and visualise reading a reply from David ...]


              • #8
                Speaking for myself...

                I've read so many books, listened to so many tapes, and attended so many seminars where I'm supposed to close my eyes and visualize success, etc., that I know one thing for sure: I don't do it. I don't make ten minutes a day available for sitting there with my eyes closed unless I'm taking a nap.

                That being said, I can see the value in learning the habit of outcome thinking, since it doesn't require some "process" or "environment" to make it work. It's more of an approach than a methodology. If you happen to visualize while thinking about the outcome then more power to you, but I think that the visualization itself is less important than focusing on the result and training yourself so that the result is the first thing you focus on. I tend to see all the obstacles first, which often gives me a good reason to put the thing off. If I can learn to see the outcome first then obstacles will appear more like steps than barriers.


                • #9
                  Oh, I'm not suggesting it takes ten minutes. More like thirty seconds.


                  • #10
                    Visualization in the sense of mental rehearsal is a very common practice in athletics and performing arts. If you use the term in a different way for GTD, you'll just confuse people.



                    • #11
                      I'm just using the terminology as I understand it, as I've seen it used. I may be incorrect, of course, but this is what I understand the term to mean. :shrug:


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Brent
                        Oh, I'm not suggesting it takes ten minutes. More like thirty seconds.
                        It was Treetops who suggested 10 minute sessions, twice a day. I can't commit to that.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Vramin
                          It was Treetops who suggested 10 minute sessions, twice a day. I can't commit to that.
                          Just to clarify, the 10 minutes x twice daily was just a guess as to what it might mean in practice. I was hoping a GTD practitioner would come back & say something like "yes I use outcome thinking/focusing regularly & this is what I do..." [followed by specifics e.g. duration , frequency, type of activity, if it worked or not].

                          Only Brent so far has given a specific example for the OS presentation.
                          Brent, I had read your example as intelligent preparation/ rehersal - I may be mistaken but presumably that took more than 30 seconds ?

                          My current thought is that perhaps Vramin is closer to things by saying
                          >It's more of an approach than a methodology.


                          • #14
                            OK have now found some articles on this area on the main site here.
                            (I did search before the OP, must have looked at the forum, not the main site, apologies for any inconvenence).

                            Anyway, theres these:

                            >The Power of Successful Outcome Thinking

                            >Positive Focus on Successful Outcomes

                            >We succeed when we acknowledge we work and play in
                            >different “time zones” - Past, Present and Future. They are
                            >keys to our success.

                            Way I read it is:

                            Outcome thinking - the principle of thinking about outcomes in a such a way
                            as to provide psychological stimulation to increase the chances of a
                            (successful) outcome. This principle can be carried out in a variety of practical ways, such as visualisation, affirmation, outcome focusing, writing desired outcomes down etc.

                            Outcome focusing - One of a number of techniques that can be applied
                            to encourage outcome thinking. In this technique, outcomes are clarified to facilitate outcome thinking.
                            [quote from Michael Dolan] For example, instead of having something on your project list that says “marketing plan,” you might get more specific as to what the actual outcome is by writing something like, “Marketing plan executed flawlessly.” [end quote]

                            Visualisation - One of a number of techniques that can be applied
                            to encourage outcome thinking.
                            (As Katherine has said, this term is already in use elsewhere, so I won't attempt a definition.)

                            Hope thats nailed this.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Treetops
                              Brent, I had read your example as intelligent preparation/ rehersal - I may be mistaken but presumably that took more than 30 seconds ?
                              Nope. I only started using this technique recently, but when I did, it took at most thirty seconds to visualize my outcome in detail, see some potential problems, and re-adjust my visualization.

                              Of course, it's possible that what I was doing wasn't exactly the thing that you seek.