Also known as leading vs lagging indicators or sometimes proxy metrics. When choosing metrics for your key results, It is important to understand which ones to and how they impact your outcomes. There is nothing worse than choosing the wrong metric and spending time optimising it.

Metrics like a NPS, retention, revenue are output metrics. Ideally you should not be using output metrics as your goals. Good input actionable input metrics should be used as Goals to make them actionable. Output metrics should be tracked as overall health.

Lets look at some examples:

Input metrics

  • These are what you control
  • Correlates with your output metric
  • for example:
    • Users have 7 friends in 10 days
    • Users play 10 songs in 1st week
    • Number of critical bugs faced

Output metrics

  • Output metric is what you finally want
  • for example:
    • Better retention
    • NPS (Net promoter score)
    • ARR (Annual recurring revenue)
Marketing input metrics Marketing output metrics

Number of blog posts written
Increase Organic traffic

A combination of both input and output metrics can be used in good OKRs. Finding good quality input metrics takes time, it is an iterative process. Teams can use behavioural correlation to learn about what successful customers are doing in order to achieve the desired outcome and then convert these signals into input metrics.

Anatomy of a good OKR

A good OKR consists of both an input metric, output metric and project:

Inspiring Objective or Goal:

Input key result:
Input metrics are the things that you can control. these are the metrics when moved, will move the output metrics.
e.g. % users that sent at least 1 invites in week 1

Output key result:
Output metrics are the things that you cannot control. these are the metrics you want to ultimately achieve but are not directly in your hand.
e.g. User retention, stock market price, annual recurring revenue (ARR)

Project-based key result:
When a project needs to be completed to achieving the KR and the project will take a significant amount of time and is a prerequisite to the KR. Tracking as a project key result could give the teams good visibility.

North Features
Getting started with North
Org and Team goals
Goal Initiatives
Goal Check-ins
Give Awards
Goal Alignment

Our take on Product
On Product discovery
Communicating well
Metrics for Product teams
Telling stories with data
Data visualisation


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