Product Practice #301: How to Pick Useful OKRs from KPI Trees


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Frameworks must be in service of the intention product teams try to achieve. One of the most helpful ways to do that is by combining them with the attributes and principles of useful Discovery insights, OKRs, or Strategy components.

​As I wrote before​, finding valuable metrics for your ​NSM or OKRs​ comes down to building your KPI landscape through a KPI tree. Through continuous questions about what a given metric drives or is driven by, you‘ll create your metrics landscape.

But this range of metrics options can be overwhelming, and you shouldn‘t use every metric you could measure. Instead, use practices like the IDLE attributes of useful Product OKRs as a lens to assess the items on your KPI trees to find starting points for your next OKRs.

This could be as simple as a 5-column table. First column: the metric, Other columns: the attributes you look for (like with IDLE). You go through them and check if the attribute is met or not. Where they are met is your starting point for useful KRs.


  • Define what attributes you‘re looking for to make your OKRs useful. What do they have to do for you, so they‘re worth looking at and making decisions based on them?
  • Create a continuously updated and evolving pool of metrics options by getting together with UX, Engineering, Data, Marketing, etc. Domain experts from your product area.
  • Use your previously agreed attributes to select metrics that are ready to use or that are starting points for further discussions.
  • Ensure to avoid the streetlight effect: If a metric is important but not influenceable and detectable, invest in why it isn’t and what you need to do to change it.

That’s (almost) all, dear reader. If you enjoyed today’s issue, please share it on LinkedIn or Twitter to help more people discover it.

Thank you for Practicing Product,


Content I found Practical This Week

OKRs can be simple

OKRs backfired a little bit, because something that was meant to allow for flexibility and outcome based decision making actually turned into this like really rigid and inflexible system, because everyone would commit to OKRs at the beginning of the quarter, put them into the system, and then couldn’t really budge off of their roadmap for that quarter, because they had committed to these OKRs. And everyone was slightly more focused on whether or not they’d be able to say that they did their OKRs at the end of the quarter, then whether or not we’d actually achieved the outcome. So everyone in product ended up hating it, because there’s a lot of process around it.

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Are You Sure You Want to Use OKRs?

If you are spending weeks refining the language of the objective and pinning down just the right metrics, your company is in the business of process management. That’s wasteful. Try to make good OKRs but remember there is a time when you have to say, good enough for now. You don’t want to spend three weeks setting your goals and lose the time you could be working toward them instead. Often people ask me, how do I know what key result to set? How do I know how much it should improve? I say “Go ahead and guess.”

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Practical KPI Trees


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