Each year during February and March, thousands of people up and down the country spend hours and hours rehearsing a piece of music for one performance. Usually, after that performance, they rarely play that piece again - just put it back into the library. They group themselves into bands, and perform the piece to an audience in a hall, along with 14 - 20 other bands (all playing the same piece). At the end, the two adjudicators decide which is the 'best' performance, and rank all bands (so they have a league across 5 sections, rather like football league tables) with promotion and relegation for the top 2 bands. The views and enjoyment of the audience would appear not to matter or count - it is the result which matters (on paper). Such is the importance of the decision of the adjudicators, such is the relevance of the result that only the finest adjudicators are used - yet remarkably, although the ultimate faith would appear to be put in their decision, they are shielded from view, to prevent them seeing which bands are performing - as this could cloud their judgement.
Now, when described like this, the concept of a Brass Band competition seems absolutely insane. Friendships damaged, relationships put in peril, fist fights in the car park - I have seen it all over the past 35 years, however, to those taking part it is a completely logical and essential way of grading themselves against their competitors (who actually are generally their very good friends who they have all grown up with).
The intriguing question is, what is important - the result or the outcome, and whist I have used the musical analogy here, it applies across many areas of life - health and marketing are two which I am going to bring in - take the view a little deeper, and there is some value to consider.
Results tend to be easily quantifiable - measurable - in the musical sense, 'who came first, who came second', in health ' how much weight have I lost, how fast can I run', and in marketing 'I have got this many features in the paper', or 'we have this many ticket sales'.
So results are fine, they give us something to report, something to track, just like financial returns, investment performance, there are figures there to perhaps justify our existence. Aside from that though, what do the results give us? Ego? but very little else indeed.
Lets look at outcomes :
The musical outcome, is that practising a piece of music intensely over a period of weeks may have improved the skills of the musicians, enabling them to perform at a higher standard, bring newer music into their repertoire, and to thrill their audiences. Whether they managed to perform at 100% on the day is immaterial, whether they were promoted or relegated matters not. They may have delighted the 400 people in the audience to the detriment of the 2 sat behind a screen - but they have still thrilled 400 people.
The health outcome - by training for a marathon, even if it was completed in 6 hours instead of 4 doesn't really matter. The overall increase in personal fitness, weight-loss, awareness, and the ability to live better for longer are things which impact for years to come. It may have inspired a dramatic and lasting change of lifestyle.
The business marketing perspective - what is the value of an article in the local paper each week, if nobody reads it, ticket sales for an event (aside from raising revenue) has no lasting impact on its own, but lets look at the outcomes. If the press causes an opinion change, an awareness, people to act and behave differently an to either engage with you, or change their behaviour, then we have a positive outcome. With ticket sales of an event, it is again the awareness of the event which counts, what that may lead to, and who it may help.
On 24th May, along with 'Thinking of Del' we are organising 'Bandtastic' an event not just to raise money for Cornwall Search and Rescue Team and MIND, but to raise awareness of mental health, particularly in men, and the impact which it has when they feel they have no-one to turn to. Having lost three friends in four years, all taking their lives by jumping from the same spot on the Cornish cliffs, Incidentally, if you want to donate to support this event, you can do so here, or buy tickets here (click through to 24th May).
On the night, we will be fully aware of the results - how much money will be raised. What we will never know though, is the real outcome, the real impact on those it helps. As someone said to me last week, we will never know the long-lasting impact of the event - if at least we can save just one person, it will be well worth the effort.
Meanwhile, 120 of the people who worked so hard during February and March refining their musical skills will continue doing so to bring an audience of almost 1000 people a truly Bantastic evening - now there is an outcome irrespective of recent results.
The intriguing question is, what is important - the result or the outcome?