How to define success and goals?

Derive goals from user problems and the broader team mission.

Why It’s Important

Product People are entrusted to balance the (sometimes conflicting) demands of users and stakeholders. Misalignment between user needs and stakeholder demands leads teams off mission, hinders progress, and reduces impact.

How to Use This Principle

Derive goals in reference to three groups: Your users, your organization and your product team. Set ambitious goals, for example, “10X improvement of a key metric.” Connect your goals to your broader organizational mission so you keep in mind how you will impact the bigger picture. Observe your impact on your users, your team, and your organization as a whole to measure progress to the goal. Revisit and update goals regularly. 

Real-life application by Shilpa Vir, Senior Product Manager at Google

Goals are important. They help you understand how to win the game you're playing, and KPIs tell you if you're winning the game. Of all the good things that goals bring us, the three most important ones are clarity, focus, and transparency. 

When your team understands the common shared objective that they're working towards, it helps them self organize to achieve that goal faster. It also brings great focus. Goals help act as a filter against which you can evaluate all the different ideas and only pick the ones that help you get the desired results. And finally, transparency. It helps the team assess whether they are on track for a successful outcome or not.

Depending on what stage your company is in, you might have a quarterly all the way to an annual goal setting process. Goals should be SMART, which means they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound. And every goal that you set should have a clear KPI identified, and their should be no room for doubt or misinterpretation of what goal success is. And finally, your work and goals should directly or indirectly impact your company's north star metrics. If they don't, you should figure out if they are the right things to work on. 

I also suggest that you set public and aggressive goals. It's okay if you only achieve 60-70% of that goal that you set, but setting bigger and bolder goals will help you make bigger and bold bets. Playing it safe will only get you small, incremental improvements.