Product Practice #268: Where to begin when connecting NSMs, Strategy, and OKRs?


Estimated Reading Time:  Minutes

As a Product Manager, you may be experiencing one of these common situations right now when it comes to the relationship between Metrics and Product Strategy:

  • Your Product Strategy feels uninspired or misguided because it lacks a Product Vision.
  • Your Product Strategy is hard to implement because your OKRs represent generic priorities.
  • Your OKRs feel random because they are not connected to clear Product Strategy Choices.

How to address these problems depends on where you stand in your process and what you should revisit: Should you redefine your North Star Metrics (NSMs) or Product Vision? Clarify your Product Strategy? Reconnect your OKRs to your Strategy? It all depends on the relationship between metrics like NSMs, Product Strategy, and OKRs. I like to call these connections the Product Strategy-Metrics Sandwich.

The Product Strategy-Metrics Sandwich Concept to link NSMs and OKRs

A Product Strategy-Metrics Sandwich can come in a variety of “flavors”:

Without enough focus on the NSM, you won’t have an inspiring narrative “on top.”

Without enough attention to Product Strategy, you won’t know what you are doing and what you are explicitly not doing. 

Without enough structure from OKRs, you will struggle with implementation when connecting Strategy to tactics.

Next week, I will talk about the different Timelines of NSMs, Strategy, and OKRs, and how they influence each other.

Speak soon,


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North Star Metric vs. North Star Strategy

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𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗡𝗦𝗠 𝗶𝘀 𝘂𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘀 if there’s no definition of the “catchy metric”. When you google for North Star Metric examples, you often find generic metrics like Monthly Active Users, or Number of boards. But there is a definition behind these generic metrics. 𝗠𝗶𝗿𝗼: It’s not “Number of boards”. It’s “Number of collaborative boards within a business” 𝗧𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗰𝗵: It’s not “Minutes played”. It’s “Five-minute plays”. 𝗦𝗽𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗳𝘆’s “Time spent listening to music” and 𝗡𝗲𝘁𝗳𝗹𝗶𝘅’s “Median view hours per month” are more specific than just saying “Daily Active Usage” (not Users).

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