PRODUCTHEAD: The joy of metrics

PRODUCTHEAD: The joy of metrics

PRODUCTHEAD is a regular newsletter of product management goodness,
curated by Jock Busuttil.

everything in its right product


Don’t be driven by metrics — be informed by them

The mental tendency to replace strategy with metrics can destroy company value

Onboard your users all the way to becoming your best users

3 kinds of innovation: method, market and product

a favour: please share this with other product people

every PRODUCTHEAD edition is online for you to refer back to


Our products live or die by metrics. We have to pick the right ones, measure them the right way, and make the right interpretation of the data to inform our next moves. It’s a real challenge.

‘Good’ is subjective

What makes it particularly difficult is that we each have to figure out not only what to measure, but what ‘good’ looks like for that particular measurement. And to complicate matters, what is good for our product is tremendously subjective; what may work in other companies doesn’t necessarily work in ours.

Imperfect information

We’re seeking insight into the connections between what our users need and how we are addressing their needs through our products. Both are continually shifting, and our information about each is always imperfect. We just can’t see the whole picture at once.

Seeing and solving the puzzle

Our measurement of metrics helps us to see patterns in the usage of our products. These patterns form a puzzle that we then need to solve. They prompt us to ask different questions which, in turn, hopefully bring us a little closer to true insight.

Where to start

In an ideal world, we seek leading metrics that help us to predict when something is going to happen, so we can take pre-emptive action.

Before attempting to measure all the things, or splashing out on the latest and greatest analytics package, figure out with your team what are the most important questions you have right now.

Then think longer-term: what would success ultimately look like for your users? How would you be able to measure that they were succeeding?

Cycles of experimentation

With a clear idea of the questions you believe you need to answer, then you can start the cycle of acquiring information, insights and hopefully understanding.

You can use these prompts:

“What do we think will happen when we try this?”

“What is actually happening?”

“Why does it do that?”

“How should we try it differently next time?

“Have we learned anything that suggests we should be asking different questions?”

To stimulate your thinking this week, I’ve pulled together a few different perspectives on how to structure your approach to metrics.

Speak to you soon,


P.S. There’s 20% off passes to PLA’s Product Ops Summit in March for PRODUCTHEAD subscribers this week – take a look below.

what to think about this week

A primer on product metrics

Why do smart product teams often build products with mediocre or no impact? Often, the answer is found in the discipline with which a product team measures the product.

This article originated from a Twitter thread by Shreyas Doshi, to which Andrew Yu helpfully added illustrations.

Metrics are but one source of input among many


Don’t let metrics undermine your business

Every day, at almost every company, strategy is being hijacked by numbers. Because strategy is abstract, employees often mentally replace it with the hard metrics meant to assess whether the organization is succeeding at it. This tendency is called surrogation.

People will maximise what you measure — so measure the right things


The only metric that matters

As product managers we spend a lot of our time thinking about metrics, and companies from startups to corporates spend a lot of time figuring out whether their metrics are good enough. This might refer to good enough to raise money, or good enough to keep working on a feature or product, or good enough to believe the product will grow into something much bigger someday.

How many people are really using your product?


Why data is driving the most successful products

As the author of Lean Analytics, Alistair Croll spends a lot of his time understanding how organizations can use data to make better decisions, and has worked in tech for most of his life as a product manager. In this video he discusses how analytics and data are now driving the world’s most successful products.

Find the one metric that matters


recent posts

Should a growth product manager even be a thing?

There’s an ongoing debate about generalist product managers versus emerging product manager specialisms (such as ‘growth product manager’). I think there is room in our profession for both. Let me explain.

“No one wants to get rich slow”


6 tips for presenting slides that don’t suck

This is an updated version of an article I wrote over a decade ago.

All product managers will need to stand up and present to others at some point. Some people are less comfortable giving a presentation than others; that’s natural. Either way, you won’t be helping yourself (or your audience) if your slide deck is atrocious. So here are my 6 tips for presenting slides that don’t suck.

Ditch the slides if you can


My boss wants to set me an OKR on revenue growth. Is this right?

My boss wants to set me a personal OKR [objective and key result] to achieve revenue growth through demonstrable product improvements.

Can you think of any reasons why I should push back on a suggestion like this?


Revenue is a rubbish choice of metric


upcoming talks and events

10th March 2022

Product Ops Summit

The product ops party is back – and you’re invited 🎉

The third instalment of the Product Operations Summit has landed, so join us on March 10 to celebrate the unsung heroes of product management. 🏆

On the mic, we have:

🎙 Product Ops Specialist – Farfetch
🎙 Product Ops Lead – OLX Motors Europe
🎙 Global Head of Product – Shipstation
🎙 Head of Product Ops- Amplitude
🎙 Product Ops Manager – Auctane
🎙 Product Ops Lead – Sana Benefits
🎙 Product Ops Manager – Segment
🎙 CEO – Dragonboat

…plus loads more to come.

Get ready for juicy tips, tricks & insights from those pioneering product ops. 🤩

PRODUCTHEAD subscribers get 20% off an Access All Areas pass, just use PROD20 at checkout 💸

Grab your pass 👉

can we help you?

Product People is a product management services company. We can help you through consultancy, training and coaching. Just contact us if you need our help!

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Helping people build better products, more successfully, since 2012.

PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from brutalist modern architecture.

Read more from Jock

The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock Busuttil is a product management and leadership coach, product leader and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn.

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