North Star Framework

The North Star Framework, popularized by Amplitude, is a strategic approach to Product Management. The idea is to identify and track a single metric that serves as a leading indicator for business success. The playbook is accessible online and constantly updated.

Connecting the Dots

The overall idea of the North Star Framework (NSF) is to find a single leading indicator for future business success and connect all activities of the team with that indicator:

A team using the North Star Framework identifies a single, meaningful metric and a handful of contributing inputs.

In a nutshell, the idea is to:

  1. Find a single metric, the North Star Metric, that acts as a leading indicator for the future success of the product. This is a metric that can be captured quickly and will drive the product strategy because it is, what the team believes, and what moves the needle.
  2. Consider the North Star Metric supporting the long-term business goals. However, these are typically lagging indicators, so they are the business outcome and a consequence of the actions as driven by the North Star Metric. Typically, they are hard to influence directly.
  3. Collect a handful set of Input Metrics that contribute to the North Star Metric but can be influenced directly by the product offering. For example, when a food delivery service had a North Star Metric like number of items received on time, then inputs might be:
    • number of orders by customers
    • number of items per order
    • ratio of the fulfillment of orders, and
    • in-time delivery of orders
  4. Derive The Work in the sense of actual designs, prototypes, and product features in order to improve the Input Metrics

The following illustration provides a rough overview:

Source: Amplitude

So, similarly to Impact Mapping, the North Star Framework tries to establish a holistic methodology to connect the dots — from long-term business goals down to features, tasks, and work items of teams.

Identifying a single North Star Metric is probably a key challenge here. At least in Enterprise B2B contexts when the user base is very heterogeneous. Also, it is a very data-driven approach, so for long sales cycles it might even be challenging to collect relevant metrics quickly enough to be actionable.

Further Reading

North Star Playbook

The guide to discovering your product’s North Star.

Amplitude | North Star Playbook

Choosing Your North Star Metric

The guide to discovering your product’s North Star.

Lenny Rachitsky |

The deep value of the North Star Framework is not a North Star metric

Reducing your business to one North Star metric is the wrong rabbit hole to go down, at least in the beginning.

Daniel Schmidt | DoubleLoop
Amplitude North Star Template Library

The ultimate North Star Framework resource library

The Amplitude North Star Template Library

John Cutler | Miro