Aren’t product managers accidentally addressing the south star metric?

Rohit Verma
2 min readJan 17, 2023

A “north star metric” is a key performance indicator that a product team focuses on to align with business objectives and customer value. However, excessive focus on this metric can sometimes lead to negative consequences, and turn it into a “south star metric.”
It’s evident that poorly chosen metrics have led to detrimental UX decisions in the past.

I am sharing a list of examples where excessive focus on the north star metric led to negatively impacting the product & business :

  • Business metrics negatively affecting user experience ( e.g. introducing refer & earn campaign in the signup journey )
  • The inability of the product team to impact business metrics ( e.g. no visibility or control over marketing campaigns or sales funnel )
  • Improving one part of a metric chain without considering the overall effects ( e.g. focusing only on acquisition rather than activation or retention )
  • When the focus on a particular metric becomes so intense that the team is criticized for spending time on tasks that do not contribute to its improvement.
  • Metrics that are insignificant when considered within the larger context. ( e.g. focusing on performance improvement in old tech stack rather than deploying resources on rewriting code )
  • Creating north star metric without consulting the relevant stakeholders ( e.g. operations team focus on improving processes however org focus on just improving NPS )

It’s key for PMs to always ensure that the north star metrics are :

  • Adopted based on a long-term roadmap.
  • Having 100% congruence between business value & user values.
  • Should stitch across all the touch points of the user journey.
  • Approved & cascaded across all relevant stakeholders.

Thanks for reading! If you’ve got ideas to contribute to this conversation please comment. If you like what you read and want to see more, clap me some love! Follow me here, or connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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Rohit Verma

Group Product Manager @AngelOne, ex-@Flipkart, @Cleartrip @IIM Bangalore.