The one crucial metric you probably aren’t measuring
It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
— Mark Twain
It’s easy to fall in love with numbers
Metrics and trends are essential. They give a sense of certainty, solid reliable evidence we know what we’re doing. They are even hypnotically fascinating when properly visualized. How fast are we growing? how much are we making? How many hits/clicks/likes? are we on a hockey stick yet?
This is probably why, especially in bootstrapped conditions, there is an uncontrollable urge to see numbers so fast, that we don’t stop to ask what’s really important here (“just put some live-tracked KPIs on the wall!”).
Should we track number of users?
active daily users?
NPS? (don’t even get me on started on this one).
Some of them are important, but the obsession with external numbers can easily side track your attention from a critical aspect that will dictate your success in the long run:
how is your team doing?
You may roll your eyes, thinking “seriously? this is not a grown-ups KPI! we’re running a business here! …and besides, we’re doing team retrospectives, so there. We’re covered.”
In countless teams I worked with, regardless of industry or location, the single biggest contributor to consistently successful teams and products (besides timing and luck, which are out of your control) is how healthy, committed and motivated is the team.
Tracking team health can be tricky, but remember:
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.
— William Bruce Cameron
How to actually develop and sustain a healthy, motivated team is a hugely challenging topic by itself, and one I’m deeply passional about, and while not so trivial to measure, it will repay your investment ten folds.
Should you put it as a dashboard on the wall? probably not. Should it be sampled on a daily base, discussed on a weekly basis, and acted-upon immediately when the signs are on the “meh” side of things? absolutely!
How much awareness, transparency, and care is there in your team for this vital pulse score? If your answer is less than “a lot”, get to work:
- What can you do to start a discussion around it?
- How often should you measure?
- Who should own it?
In every company the answers to Who, How, and What may be different, but it is essential to not shy away from the challenge, and settle for any other metrics before you spend enough time figuring this one out.
Get this one right, and I assure you the gods of growth will send a hockey sticky your way soon enough.
This article was originally published on Medium’s The Startup collective, by Yanay Zohar.