Previously, we’ve touched upon communication and the importance of speaking the same language of other departments. One of the best ways to do this is to have mutually defined and agreed upon goals. Language is important; numbers are more tangible.
The main importance of goal setting at the most senior levels is that you want everyone pulling in the same direction. It’s fairly obvious. However it can be overlooked or, more frequently, multiple goals are set, which can be interpreted in different ways.
Dow Jones articulated this well in the following slide on why data is the key to transforming the company’s products:
I can’t count the anecdotal stories I have heard about incredible products and services that have been built but haven fallen flat because they don’t meet company goals. For example, this week I heard about a new feature that was weeks in the making and produced a record number of shares. Which was great. Until it received a lukewarm response from colleagues in marketing. Why? They didn’t see social shares as being helpful to them. The brand was already strong. Their goal was for people to click through to their site, ultimately going through a carefully defined funnel to become a paying subscriber.
Although painful to go through at the time, sometimes these episodes are extremely helpful as they force a conversation earlier rather than later. The particular example above led to an exceptionally close collaboration for the months and years to come.
On a recent INMA Webinar Marcel Semmler, global head of technology/publishing at Bauer Media Group, pointed out that traditionally we refer to two sets of customers: our audience and our business customers (i.e. advertisers). As product people we have another customer: our colleagues.
Now is a good time to note that there is a big difference between goals and metrics. In a conversation, Lucy Butler, director of customer analytics at Financial Times, pointed out these are different layers of the same process.
Goals should be overarching for the company, such as reach, engagement, subscription revenue
Metrics or (KPIs) Key Performance Indicators should be used to measure the goals, such as the FT’s infamous RFV metric (recency frequency volume), days visited per month, or subscriber numbers.
There are a number of different frameworks to set these. One we are hearing more and more of, particularly from Silicon Valley: OKRs, a framework for setting and executing Objectives and Key Results. The OKR will almost certainly include goals and metrics that represent them — eg “increase engagement amongst new subscribers as measured by an X% increase in RFV.” This framework can include processes such as quarterly scoring and reviews with particular formats, principles around transparency, and how these cascade across teams. To read more on OKRs, visit What Matters.
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