NPS, but for your OKRs: Introducing the Net Confidence Score (NCS)

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Net Confidence Score, or NCS, is a new and simple way to measure and understand how confident a team is that they'll achieve their goals.

It's inspired by the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and uses a similar formula:

NCS = (percentage of goals on-track) - (percentage of goals off-track)

It's used today in Tability to give people an easy way to understand and compare teams at scale.

We truly believe that all tools offering any kind of goal/strategy-tracking should also present that metric to their users. They'll thank you for it.

It all started with OKRs

I'm a big fan of OKRs because it's a simple way for companies to have a shared language for focus. Instead of having one team talking about themes and another one talking about priorities, you can go around your org and ask the same question: "What are your Objectives? And how are your Key Results tracking?".

No more Tower of Babel problem. Marketers, Designers, and Engineers might not speak the same language for their tactics, but OKRs allow them to find common ground when discussing their focus.

It makes it easy to compare strategies and align teams. 🤩

But, it still presents issues when you're trying to compare execution. 😓

OKRs scores are rarely comparable

A manager with 4 teams to look after shouldn't have to dig through every Jira ticket and every team update to understand if one of their team is starting to feel a bit off. Ideally, they should be able to look at the overall scoring of the OKRs to understand traction.

But what's good in theory often breaks in practice.

Example 1:

Team A has made their first OKRs plan. Unfortunately, they don't have a lot of metrics available for their Key Results as they're still instrumenting their systems.

As a result, they have a hard time measuring on a 0-100 scale how much progress they've made towards their goals, and they often have big debates about whether something is at 45%, 50%, or 55%.

Scoring is hard to agree on without measurable outcomes.

But, they're still able to express their confidence with a simple 3-grade scale (on-track, at-risk, off-track).

Example 2:

Team B is experienced with OKRs, and all Key Results are measurable and tied to a specific metric (weekly active users, activation rate, customer acquisition costs). But, some of their efforts paid late, and while they're technically below the trend line, it's looking like they'll reach their goal by the end of the quarter.

The latest data point looks off-track, but the team can correct that assumption by marking that point green to signal that they're confident about their execution.

Scores don't always reflect the trajectory of a KR

What we see in these 2 examples is that scoring can vary a lot depending on the situation,but confidence remains a reliable way to understand how a team feels—no matter what their OKRs are.

Confidence is a standard measure across teams

Every week, hundreds of teams come to Tability to update progress on their goals. Most of them use OKRs, but we also have teams using Reforge's NCTs model, others following the Scaling Up approach, and some companies having their own goal-setting approach. And even within the same organization, we can see squads having different takes on how they want to track their progress.

So, scoring can differ vastly from one person to another. But, we realized that 100% of the goal owners provide a red, yellow, or green status to represent their confidence level. That's the one piece of data that is consistent across the board:

  • Green means you believe you're on track.
  • Yellow means you believe you're at risk.
  • Red means you believe you're off track.

We just needed a way to aggregate all confidence levels into a meaningful number.

Coming up with the Net Confidence Score (NCS)

The light bulb moment came from Bryan (co-founder of Tability) while we were looking at our NPS feedback. Boiled down to its essence, NPS is about measuring the percentage of green feedback (promoters) against the percentage of red feedback (detractors) while ignoring the yellow feedback (neutral).

The data captured by Tability looked a lot similar: every week, we get thousands of OKRs check-ins that include a red/yellow/green confidence level.

So all we needed to do was to re-use the NPS formula to calculate our own NCS:

NCS = (percentage of goals on-track) - (percentage of goals off-track)

This gives you a score that can range from -100 to 100 and reflects pretty well how your teams feel about the quarter. Another advantage of NCS is that survey fatigue won't affect the scoring the same way it happens for NPS. Capturing your confidence level is part of the weekly OKRs scoring process. You're not meant to dismiss it, and there no reason to stop tracking progress on your goals all of a sudden.

So with NCS, we end up with a fairly accurate depiction of execution as it's the summary of the sentiment of the team doing the work.

Tability's dashboards include NCS data

Adopt NCS today!

NCS can be applied to OKRs, but it would also work for other goal-setting methodologies, strategic projects, or any kind of plan where you periodically express your confidence level on various items.

You can signup for Tability today to give it a try. Our platform supports OKRs, but also other forms of goal-tracking. It only takes a couple of minutes to get started, and you'll get 100 check-ins for free to help you get started.

We'd love it if you could share this post if you find NCS interesting, and you can reach out to us on Twitter at @tabilityio!

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Sten Pittet

Co-founder and CEO, Tability

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