Outcomes, Opportunities and Solutions

When working through a people-oriented challenge using design thinking, we’re focused on outcomes, opportunities and solutions. As I strive to better understand how design thinking works in an organizational setting, here are my thoughts on how to distinguish between outcomes, opportunities and solutions.

Outcomes are about the overall impact solutions might have, not necessarily the execution of completion of applying those solutions. What overall goals do we have or what is it that we want to accomplish? Outcomes are a measure of what happens after a change is implemented, not the implementation of the change itself. As Carrie Levy astutely points out, outputs are “usually bigger than anything one individual can deliver.”

Opportunities are what we identify from the stories we collect. Those opportunities aren’t always problems — they may also be amplifying “bright spots” we find along the way (i.e., replicating and scaling something really good that’s going on).

Solutions are ideas that address opportunities in a way that produces favorable outcomes. Solutions may be big or small, and are proto-typed and tested in an iterative way.


Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash


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