Skip to content

Paired Metrics

1 min
metrics  ✺  management  ✺  leadership  ✺  highstandards  ✺  performance  ✺  measure

When we talk about metrics as a measure of performance - one of the key concepts to learn and apply is that of "paired metrics".

First let me start with the background, which takes us to Goodhart’s Law: “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” One of the concepts introduced by the legendary CEO of Intel - Andy Grove - to mitigate the consequences of this law is that of "paired metrics". Simply stated, the concept is as follows: For every metric, there should another “paired” metric that addresses adverse consequences of the first metric.

Why is this important? Suppose you are leading an engineering team and you start to assess your Software Development Engineer's by a metric related to the number of features completed (or say number tickets closed). It's very easy for teams to forget the original intent of the metric (as a measure of customer outcome progress) and aim to optimise the metric itself (number of features delivered). Over time, what is likely to happen in this scenario is you may notice requirements being missed or number of bugs increasing - as teams rush to meet the delivery metric. If we apply the concept of paired metric in this example, we would add another metric measuring the number of defects (as a measure of quality) alongside the delivery metric. In the other example about tickets closed, you may measure the number of tickets re-opened with the same root cause.

What are some other examples of paired metrics? Clickthrough rate with bounce rate; number of sales calls with deals closed; sign-up target with retention etc.

This post is part of a mini-series diving deeper into performance metrics. Here is an ealier introductory post on the topic if you missed it: Stay tuned for future posts on this topic.

#metrics #performance #measure #management

P.S. Looking for more inspiration from Andy Grove, see this blog post (from LightHouse Blog) that summarizes 12 leadership and management quotes from his seminal book High Output Management: .