Objectives are clear, measurable, inspiring goals aligned with specific outcomes you're striving to achieve — for your customers, product, or business.
- Help users perform core job-to-be-done X
- Grow our impact on the world by expanding to customer segment Y
- Close core feature gaps experienced by user role Z
When objectives are really broad, we might call them company objectives:
- Expand internationally to increase the total addressable market
But here we'll be focusing on more specific product objectives:
- Expand customer base to 3 new regions
In this case, our product objective was derived "top-down" from our company objective. It makes sense that the product team's work should be aligned with the company's current goals.
Other product objectives may be derived "bottom-up", based on user insights you've received, market intelligence you've gathered, or your own product strategy.
How can you tell if an objective is a product objective? Use these guidelines:
- Is it high-level enough to represent a worthy goal/outcome for customers or your product? Something that could only be achieved by building a handful of supporting features?
- Is it specific enough to help guide your prioritization decisions around which features to build next?
If so, chances are you've got yourself a product objective.
Does your team eat, sleep, and breathe certain KPIs? In that case, these can be incorporated directly into the objective itself:
- Increase number of videos viewed per session by 10%
Otherwise, define objectives qualitatively but for each one, specify measurable "key results" in the objective's description (accessible in the side pane).
Defining key results
Key results are simply success criteria: an exhaustive list of the measurable/verifiable conditions that, if met, allow everyone to agree the objective was accomplished:
- Product fully localized for languages x, y, and z
- At least 20 new customers in each region by end of Q3
- Within 3 months, MAU for users in all new regions is 30% or higher
- For the first 100 NPS results from each new region, average score is > 25
By including key results for each objective, you help to clarify what the objective really entails while baking in accountability that focuses and motivates you and your team.
Smaller teams at fast-moving startups may set new objectives every 4-8 weeks. More established product organizations often set new product objectives once a quarter.
Some objectives may be relevant over the long-term. But it may still help to represent these with multiple sequential objectives, each with their own scope, key results, and features. In this way, objectives act a bit like initiatives, large units of work that you can mark "done" before moving on to the next one — even if you'll still be focusing on advancing the same high-level objective.
Naming objectives in productboard
When naming an objective in productboard, it's up to you whether to use an objective's full name, an abbreviated version of its name, or a secret code name. You can always give an objective a shorthand name and add the full one to its description field.
What really matters is how the objective looks once added as a column on your Features board...
how it looks on your Roadmap...
and how it appears in the feature details side pane (where long names may be truncated, though accessible in full on-hover)...
If your organization is really invested in an objective, you can have fun using code names. At productboard, we once had an objective called "Echelon" named after a Cold War era spy program related to intercepting international communications. It represented our goal to make productboard significantly better for consolidating insights from many sources across the organization, like Intercom, Zendesk, Chrome extension, and email. Ok, so maybe our code name was a bit of a stretch, but if you think it might focus and motivate your team, come up with one of your own!