Don’t Let Your North Star Metric Deceive You Brian Balfour


We’ve all heard the rallying cry of the “One Metric That Matters”. Choose your north star and focus. Grow 7% week over week. If you grow DAUs, the rest will follow. But blindly buying into the concept of the one metric that matters (OMTM) is a fatal oversimplification. In a recent essay, Casey Winters, formerly Growth at Pinterest, says: “The search for one key metric for a complex ecosystem like Pinterest over-simplifies how the ecosystem works and prevents anyone from focusing on understanding the different elements of that ecosystem. You want the opposite to be true. You want everyone focused on understanding how different elements work together in this ecosystem. The one key metric can make you think that is not important.” In this post, we’ll expand on Casey’s points, walking through why focusing only on your north star metric is a dangerous way to measure the growth of your business, and how teams should think about setting their metrics instead. 4 Reasons OMTM is Misleading Even the name “One Metric That Matters” is problematic. It sends the message that you only need to focus on one metric to build growth into your product – this misleads many teams. There are four key reasons that explain why buying into the one key metric philosophy can be deadly. Let’s walk through each reason in detail.

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