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Why vanity metrics are dangerous

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Wednesday, December 23, 2009 Why vanity metrics are dangerous In a previous post, I defined two kinds of metrics: vanity metrics and actionable metrics. In that post, I took it for granted that vanity metrics are bad for you, and focused on techniques for creating and learning from actionable metrics. In this post, Id like to talk about the perils of vanity metrics. My personal favorite vanity metrics is "hits."

The Rudder Fallacy – Adopting Lean Startup

Grasshopper Herder

Before there is velocity, no measurable progress can be seen on any metrics dashboard. Lean Enterprise Lean Startups Managing Entrepreneurship adopting lean startup agile velocity metrics In a lean startup, team velocity proceeds measurable product progress.

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Metrics Are More Motivating Than Bonuses

Inc Startups

A founder and CEO explains why he thinks a well run metrics program beats cash bonuses for motivating employees. But it's not just that lack of agility implied in annual bonuses that Moore dislikes. "If Something we rarely associate with improving employee drive: metrics.

Your Web Metrics: Super Lame or Super Awesome?

Occam's Razor

Web Analysts are blessed with an immense amount of data, and an amazing amount of valuable, even sexy, metrics to understand business performance. Yet our heroic efforts to report the aforementioned sexy metrics lead to little business action. These metrics are super lame because.

You Are What You Measure, So Choose Your KPIs (Incentives) Wisely!

Occam's Razor

While there is a great deal of appreciation for the power of metrics/data, I've come to realize that Sr. Leaders don't quite appreciate the deep, and often corrosive, consequences of choosing metric x over metric y as a key performance indicator (KPI).

Social, Agile, and Transformation: Strategic Agile Thinking: Balancing Value, Innovation and Research

Social, Agile, and Transformation. I cover several topics including agile software development, software startups, web 2.0, Strategic Agile Thinking: Balancing Value, Innovation and Research. 2) The agile "happy place". Social, Agile, Transformation Pages. Agile!

Perspectives: Product Management Advice from Jeremy Horn

The Product Guy

Why is it so critical for startups to establish key metrics and how does lean methodology factor into early stage product management? Filed under: interview , product management Tagged: agile , lean , pricing , product management. interview product management agile lean pricing

Pivot, don't jump to a new vision

Startup Lessons Learned

Each has its own iterative process: customer development and agile development respectively. Leading up to a pivot, each cycle, despite our best efforts, the metrics werent good enough. Kent Beck keynote, "To Agility, and Beyond" Six streaming locations Interviews ► March (7) New conference website, speakers, agenda Two new scholarship programs for lean startups Speed up or slow down?

Lessons Learned: The metrics and levers of engagement.

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Tuesday, March 24, 2009 The metrics and levers of engagement, presentation on Engagement Loops for Facebook Developer Garage SF Ill be presenting a talk at the Facebook Developer Garage SF Wednesday evening. Combining agile development with customer developm.

Kill Useless Web Metrics: Apply The "Three Layers Of So What" Test

Occam's Razor

Like good little Reporting Squirrels we collect and stack metrics as if preparing for an imminent ice age. In this case its making right choices about the web metrics we knight and sent to the battle to come back with insights for our beloved corporation to monetize.


Building a Company with Customer Data – Why Metrics Are Not Enough

Steve Blank

Web startups are at real disadvantage here as founders may confuse web metrics, A/B testing and on-line surveys as the entirety of first-hand knowledge – for most web business models they are not. Metrics tell you that something is happening. Of course you need to collect metrics, do A/B testing and run online surveys. Customer information dissemination is a cornerstone of Lean and agile companies.

Learning is better than optimization (the local maximum problem)

Startup Lessons Learned

At least, not in the traditional sense of trying to squeeze every tenth of a point out of a conversion metric or landing page. Even if it shows improvement in some micro metric, does that invalidate the overall design?

Lessons Learned: The three drivers of growth for your business.

Startup Lessons Learned

Master of 500 Hats: Startup Metrics for Pirates (SeedCamp 2008, London) This presentation should be required reading for anyone creating a startup with an online service component. Daves done a great job of articulating the key metrics you want to look at in each of these five areas, and I wont bother repeating them here (go read the presentation already). He also has a discussion of how your choice of business model determines which of these metric areas you want to focus on.

Nail the Customer Development Manifesto to the Wall

Steve Blank

Pair Customer Development with Agile Development. Startup Metrics are Different from Existing Companies. When Bob Dorf and I wrote the Startup Owners Manual we listed a series of Customer Development principles.

Fear of Failure and Lack of Speed In a Large Corporation

Steve Blank

And worse, even if someone does manage to start something new, our management structure has so many financial, legal and HR hurdles that every initiative needs to match our existing business financial metrics, processes and procedures. More agile competitors are starting to eat into our business. There are financial metrics (Return on Investment, Hurdle Rate, etc.) metrics (validated/invalidated hypotheses, Investment Readiness Level ) and processes.

Why Companies are Not Startups

Steve Blank

These groups are adapting or adopting the practices of startups and accelerators – disruption and innovation rather than direct competition, customer development versus more product features, agility and speed versus lowest cost. Our Investment Readiness Level is just one of those metrics.)

How Future-Proof is Your Company (and Your Career)?

Startup Professionals Musings

Every company needs to track their progress and measure results – establish metrics to understand how much and how effectively their workplaces are being transformed and compete. When you are growing a business, it’s hard to find time to focus on anything but the crises of today.

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Lessons Learned: Stevey's Blog Rants: Good Agile, Bad Agile

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Thursday, November 6, 2008 Steveys Blog Rants: Good Agile, Bad Agile I thought Id share an interesting post from someone with a decidedly anti-agile point of view. Steveys Blog Rants: Good Agile, Bad Agile : "Google is an exceptionally disciplined company, from a software-engineering perspective. I think you can safely ignore the rantings about "bad agile" and the bad people who promote it.

Intel Disrupted: Why large companies find it difficult to innovate, and what they can do about it

Steve Blank

As a consequence, corporations used metrics like return on net assets (RONA), return on capital deployed, and internal rate of return (IRR) to measure efficiency. These metrics make it difficult for a company that wants to invest in long-term innovation.

Lessons Learned: Combining agile development with customer development

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Monday, March 16, 2009 Combining agile development with customer development Today I read an excellent blog post that I just had to share. Jim Murphy is a long-time agile practitioner in startups. In most agile development systems, there is a notion of the "product backlog" a prioritized list of what software is most valuable to be developed next. But startups sometimes have trouble applying agile successfully.

Why Some Startups Win

Steve Blank

It dawned on me that we had a department full of people with titles describing process-centric execution while we were in environment that required relentless agility and speed with urgency. But what I wanted was an agile marketing team capable of operating independently without day-to-day direction. And the results weren’t the traditional PR metrics of number of articles or inches of ink. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?

It’s Time to Play Moneyball: The Investment Readiness Level

Steve Blank

Investors sitting through Incubator or Accelerator demo days have three metrics to judge fledgling startups – 1) great looking product demos, 2) compelling PowerPoint slides, and 3) a world-class team. And we can offer investors metrics to play Moneyball – with the Investment Readiness Level.

What’s A Startup? First Principles.

Steve Blank

Or depending on your metrics for success, get users, grow traffic, etc.). How Does Customer Development, Agile Development and Lean Startups Fit? Agile Development is the way startups quickly iterate their product as they learn.

Building Your MVP as a Non-Technical Founder


Once you build it, they will now ask you about the key metrics that they need proven in order to see if you really are a good investment. The real reason to build an MVP is to do early tests of key Startup Metrics for the business.

Lean Startup and Lean Analytics in the Enterprise

Instigator Blog

You need to design scorecards and focus on key metrics that will really resonate. The metrics are changing. It’s happening slowly, but I definitely see a trend (particularly in speaking with publishing and media organizations) towards actionable metrics. I spoke with a couple of people that take this approach–they’ll build small mobile apps (or websites) on the side, testing against specific metrics (usually engagement related) and see what happens.

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The Money Is In The Metrics: Data Driven Decisions Form The Right Strategy For Growth


It’s also a time when you are most agile to work on ideas and implement strategies without the crippling setbacks caused by decision hierarchy and process. Others data Extraprise metrics

B2C 1

How The Marine Corps Builds an Innovation Culture

Steve Blank

To achieve this mission, we established a framework that leveraged Marine Corps tenacity, agility, and adaptability to create a persistent culture of innovation. Real problems—when defined properly—have metrics that quantify the scope, magnitude, and impact.

8 Signs Of Change That Good Entrepreneurs See First

Startup Professionals Musings

Changes in your organization’s core performance metrics. If one metric changes, it may not be significant, but someone needs to monitor whole categories for fluctuations that may be a weak signal. Re-evaluating relentlessly for the agility to survive.

Kent Beck keynote, "To Agility, and Beyond"

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Sunday, April 4, 2010 Kent Beck keynote, "To Agility, and Beyond" Kent Beck will give the opening keynote at the Startup Lessons Learned conference on April 23.

Beware of Vanity Metrics (for Harvard Business Review)

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Monday, February 8, 2010 Beware of Vanity Metrics (for Harvard Business Review) The next article in my series on entrepreneurship for Harvard Business Review is live today. Once again, we revisit the topic of Actionable metrics and their nemesis: Vanity metrics. Any entrepreneur with a decent reality distortion field can find metrics that make it look like theyre being successful. But how do we know which metrics to look at?

StartupRoar - Great Content for Startups


This site aggregates and filters content from thought leaders who talk about topics such as Marketing , Sales , Design , Revenue , Hiring , Social Media , Business Models , Metrics , PR , Venture Capital , Angel Investors , Bootstrapping , Incubators , Agile and many others.

How Entrepreneurs Get Out Of Their Comfort Zone

Startup Professionals Musings

Increase change agility. Change agility represents a startup’s ability to immediately and effectively engage everyone in pending changes and innovations. Relevant skills include continuous improvement of existing methods, processes and devices against a set of quality metrics.

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The Mission Model Canvas – An Adapted Business Model Canvas for Mission-Driven Organizations

Steve Blank

In other words, how can we adapt the Business Model Canvas when the metrics of success for an organization is not revenue? In the defense and intelligence community the metrics of success are not revenue but mission achievement.

ESADE Business School Commencement Speech

Steve Blank

Metrics like Return on Net Assets, Return on Capital and Internal Rate of Return are the guiding stars of the board and CEO. As Harvard professor Clayton Christensen noted, these efficiency metrics provided wise guidance for times when capital was scarce and raising money was hard.

IRR 149

5 Reasons Why Content Marketing Is Getting Harder And Why You Need Experts


For a small firm, while there are advantages that come with being more agile, it is also harder to compete on uneven ground as they may not have large budgets. There was no one God-sent metric box that solved all our queries in one go.

Three Things I Learned on Commencement Day

Steve Blank

But these metrics don’t help kids understand that great grades are not a pass for a great life. Colleges may not reward resiliency, curiosity, agility, resourcefulness, pattern recognition and tenacity.

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Lean Innovation Management – Making Corporate Innovation Work

Steve Blank

To move innovation faster, we now have 21 st century tools — Business Model Canvas , Customer Development , Agile Engineering – all adding up to a Lean Startup. I’ve been working with large companies and the U.S.

Lean 154

How The Marine Corps Builds an Innovation Culture

Steve Blank

To achieve this mission, we established a framework that leveraged Marine Corps tenacity, agility, and adaptability to create a persistent culture of innovation. Real problems—when defined properly—have metrics that quantify the scope, magnitude, and impact.

Traction vs. Product

Rob Go

Often, I find that there is a very distinct trade-off that surfaces when thinking about how to best position yourself for your series A: Option 1 is to focus nearly exclusively on some traction metric.

The Lean Startup at Agile Vancouver April 21st

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned by Eric Ries Wednesday, March 25, 2009 The Lean Startup at Agile Vancouver April 21st A surprising number of respondents in the latest Lessons Learned survey hail from one of the flourishing startup hubs in Canada. In keeping with my recent theme of blogging about upcoming events, Im happy to announce that Ill be speaking at Agile Vancouver on April 21. Combining agile development with customer developm.