7 experts on how to keep teams aligned towards a North Star Metric
A common challenge for business leaders and department heads is getting teams across your company to move in the same direction to achieve North Star Metrics.
We know that organizations that approach growth through multiple strategies (PLG, MLG, and SLG) outperform those who don't. But this can introduce conflicting goals and approaches.
The same is true for experimentation - we found that companies which experiment across the organization are more successful than those only testing in one team. But how can you deploy experimentation across your company or utilize a range of growth strategies while keeping everyone on the same page? Not to mention reducing internal conflict and wasted effort?
We asked seven leaders across product, engineering, analytics, experimentation, and sales how to get all teams pulling together to achieve north star goals. Here are their best pieces of advice.
1 Build a common understanding of the problem and goals
Product-led growth or experimentation may be new to your company or specific teams or individuals. As with seemingly all business practices, they come with their own terminology and ways of doing thighs.
But using acronyms and challenging existing mindsets can create distance and confusion between teams.
Deborah O'Malley, CEO at Convert Experts, provides excellent advice on overcoming this.
"Hold regular reviews and go through what’s been achieved and what’s in the testing pipeline. Make sure all key stakeholders are in attendance. With everyone there, state in clear terms how testing goals are being met and how they’re supporting the goals of the business."
Deborah continues, "When reporting your achievements, make sure to use the KPIs and north star metric, which your audience will respond to and understand best. Speak their language."
To ensure your department goals contribute to the overall north star metric, map out the connections using a goal tree. This helps you visualize how individual and team KPIs impact department goals, which in turn impact the longer-term overall business goals.
If you are struggling to see how they connect or contribute, you might be focusing on the wrong goals or KPIs.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Alan Page, Vice President, Engineering Experience at NBCUniversal, uses a famous Einstein quote to help us get back on track; "If I had an hour to solve a problem, I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions."
Alan explains, "To me, the quickest path to aligning teams starts with diving into the problem we need to solve. When I need to get teams or departments to work together, we start by discussing the problem."
2 Talk about your north star metrics at every opportunity
There’s a marketing adage that prospects must hear or see your message at least seven times before they will take action. While the Rule of Seven is a rough guide, the impetus behind it is true.
People need to see and hear messages (in multiple formats) many times before things sink in. If you are trying to get everyone on the same page, this knowledge is very useful.
Here's what Lydia Ogles, Conversion Rate Optimization Manager at Vivint, suggests.
“In my experience, frequent review of north star metrics on a daily or weekly basis fosters a stronger sense of unity among teams. By prioritizing the metrics that are most beneficial for the business, everyone remains aware of them, and all cross-channel teams remain vigilant to any changes in those areas. Such regular review promotes a more comprehensive understanding of the various facets of the business that contribute to that metric."
As mentioned above, it’s best to unify teams around north star metrics using various communication techniques and formats to ensure the information gets through to everyone.
It’s also vital that everyone has access to the same (correct) information regarding the metrics, as Mathew Vermilyer, Sr. Director of Analytics and Optimization at At Home Group Inc. recommends.
3 Get the right people involved
When it comes to review meetings or decision-making sessions, it’s essential to have all the relevant functions represented. But that doesn’t mean inviting everyone. In fact, smaller meetings have benefits, according to Lucrezia Platé, Growth Product Manager at Bending Spoons.
Lucrezia continues. "Do keep the number of participants to a minimum, as in larger groups, the risk of Groupthink is much higher. Limiting the numbers can help create a non-judgemental atmosphere which fosters idiosyncratic thinking.”
4 Hold yourself and others accountable.
The above advice would be for nothing if people weren’t held accountable. And it isn’t just about being responsible for results. Individuals and teams must be accountable for deadlines and deliverables they commit to. If not, trust can wane, making it hard to build cohesion and collaboration between groups.
Jonas Moe, Leader for Sales & CRO at TV 2, shares his advice on accountability.
Lucrezia shares some specific tips to create accountability and ownership within meetings.
“In periodic cross-functional meetings, a representative from each team should present:
- What the team has achieved with regard to the goals.
- What the team is planning to complete in the next iteration.
- Which fundamental assumptions are supporting the team’s plan, and whether they have evidence to support their hypotheses.
- Any bottlenecks the team is encountering.
Collaboration in terms of exchanging ideas and removing obstacles should be encouraged, along with a culture of constructive criticism.”
5 Reward the right behavior
A lot is written about building business culture, but it can feel like an ethereal concept that’s hard to change.
Luckily Navya Rehani Gupta, Chief Product Officer at Peek, has provided practical advice on creating a collaborative business culture by incentivizing behavior that puts the customers' needs as the top priority.
Navya continues. "The company should regularly celebrate employees who are going above and beyond to help fellow team members and customers. It is much easier to gain unification if both north star metrics and individual performance metrics for employees are tied to customer outcomes. If customers are given a "seat at the table" in decisions, then the question of "what does this mean for the customer" supersedes the team goals or individual interests.”
How to unify teams towards a common goal
If you are looking to get teams across your company moving in the same direction to achieve your north star goals, you should:
- Build a common understanding of the problem and goals.
- Talk about your north star metrics at every opportunity.
- Get the right people involved in meetings.
- Hold yourself and others accountable.
- Reward customer-centric behavior.
Thank you to everyone who shared their advice and contributed to this article!