Connecting KPI Trees and Opportunity Solution Trees: Succeed in Structuring Complex Spaces

A How-To Guide for a technique I constantly use to achieve easier prioritization, opportunity assessment, and OKR definition

Nacho Bassino
4 min readJan 22, 2024

Note: this article was published in Nov 2023 in Product Direction’s Newsletter. Subscribe for free and read subscriber’s exclusive articles like Combining Scoring and Assumption Mapping and The Performance Review Dilemma.

Today, I’m sharing a specific method I use with teams starting or struggling with Mapping the Opportunity Space and thinking about their outcomes.

Similar to OKRs, the theory of Opportunity Solution Trees (a discovery tool developed by Teresa Torres) is quite simple.

  • Start with a desired outcome.
  • Uncover opportunities (customer pains or new benefits you can add).
  • Connect to solutions that you can implement to address them.

But in reality, the exercise can become very challenging.

One of the most typical struggles is that our opportunity space is big and complex, and we tend to see problems like:

  • Very high-level desired outcomes (like “higher usage”) that can be addressed with hundreds of opportunities.
  • (Related) Difficult to compare many opportunities that impact the desired outcome in slightly different ways.
  • Overlapping branches because we have “lower levels” that seem to contribute to multiple things.

Starting with a KPI Tree before jumping to OSTs

Imagine you have a Customer Service product in which users can:

  • Access content to clarify doubts
  • Self-service some requests
  • Contact a representative to get further help

The Impact you are trying to achieve for the company is to reduce the cost of operation, measured as the cost of the representatives who answer users’ contacts. The company does that in two ways:

  1. Reducing the amount of users contacting (Our product’s scope)
  2. Reducing the cost per contact (Not our product’s scope; another team works on contact tools and efficiency)

Note: I’m using the “Outcome (user behavior change) contributes to Impact (company result)” as described by Jeff Patton.

So, we may be tempted to grab that as our outcome and start thinking about opportunities directly connected to it.

But we can pause and think about other outcomes influencing the number of contacts. For example, users who find information that solves their inquiry and users who can self-serve requests. And for self-serve, we can think about the different categories of requests they may seek.

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Connecting Opportunity Trees to the “leaf nodes” of the KPI Tree

Now, it’s much easier to “plug” opportunities (and their corresponding trees) into each of these more granular desired outcomes.

Compare this to putting all opportunities under “Reducing the amount of users contacting.” You will have very different opportunities competing for attention without any further visualization of how they contribute to the different levers we can pursue.

Results of the technique

I hope this structure is already helpful in visualizing the opportunity space, but fortunately, it had another 3 amazing benefits.

1. Easier High-Level Prioritization

Instead of having 20 opportunities competing for priorities, you can already make a high-level branch prioritization. Should we focus on reducing contacts to clarify information or increase the number of self-service requests?

Following this example, if we detect that information contacts are low, we can already lower the attention to all opportunities in that branch and focus on self-service.

2. Easier to Assess and Compare Opportunities

Similarly, all opportunities contribute to the high-level KPI, but in very different ways. So, if we simply assess the impact on the global metric, our comparisons will be fuzzier and opaque, often based on things that are too abstract and confusing.

Considering that we prioritized branches, going down to more granular KPIs makes the contribution of opportunities concrete and easier to contrast.

Note: this is my favorite benefit because it unlocks better priority conversations.

3. Easier OKRs Definition

Finally, combining how well you understand the lower-level KPIs with the opportunities that contribute to them, it is very easy to define a very relevant metric to measure the team’s efforts and define the target result you can expect out of those options you are considering.


As you can see, this is relatively easy to apply but has tremendous benefits.

If you are struggling with this challenge and want to chat for a while, please reach out!



Nacho Bassino

Working on online products, currently as Director of Product at XING. Passionate about technology and amazing web/mobile products.