Should we invest in the process or the outcome?

Karthiga Ratnam
2 min readMar 8, 2020

Philosophically speaking investing in the outcome of any process is considered to be detrimental to the process itself. It was Lord Krishna who said “You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.”

In short, you are to be invested in the process and not the outcome.

How can this particular philosophy be practiced in business? You have KPIs, deadlines and delivery dates, so you are invested in the outcome. But should you be?

Are we so focused on the outcome — on-time delivery for example, that we have ignored the process altogether. Let’s say I have delivered a report on-time, but it takes my supervisor 3 more days to get it customer ready. Is it still on-time delivery? If we had focused on the process of how the report was getting made and not the outcome, would we have gotten a better outcome?

By focusing on the outcome are businesses shooting themselves in the foot? Apart from detachment which is the root of most philosophies, is there a more business-centric reason for being invested in the process?

Let’s think this through. Businesses are focused on profit which is an outcome. In the aggressive drive towards profits and sales targets are we actually becoming less efficient?

Can it be argued that if you invest in the process and not the outcome you will get a better outcome than the one you desired? Can it also be argued that if a company is not invested in profit but in the process of customer satisfaction and experience that the profits will come regardless?

We are constantly telling our employees to work smarter. But are organizations setting up an environment to work smarter if it's just the outcome we are focused on? If its the outcome we are focused on then does it matter how we got there as long as the desired result is reached?

Philosophical interpretations aside its good business to not be so invested in the outcome that we lose sight how we get there?



Karthiga Ratnam

Impact-Driven Category Designer | Working group member Wicked 7