Recommended Framework

Understand the four steps to skillfully answer the investigating metric questions.

Let’s go through our recommended framework for tackling these types of problems.


Given any scenario, we can first lay out the solution in four steps.

The first step is to clarify the question.

This means understanding exactly what is being asked – for instance, when they ask us about friend requests dropping by 10%, do they mean friend requests sent or friend requests accepted?

Gather context

The second step is to gather context.

This means reframing the problem with more background information so that we can make logical arguments.

If it’s a metric, such as friend requests per user, then we can respond specifically and understand that this is the total number of friend requests divided by the total number of users.

Example: Since there are many different ways to cut the data, such as one-sided friend requests and accepted friend requests, it’s imperative to clarify that the total amount of sent friend requests has been reduced by 10%.

Hypothesize for probable causes

After we gather context and fully understand the situation, such as if it’s a one-time or recurring event, we’ll begin hypothesizing for a probable cause. Here, we’ll want to cut our data into different segments from acquisition, user engagement, and funnels, which will allow us to theorize what could have caused the metric to drop or increase.


This means proposing metrics and data points that we can use to determine what could have happened. This part is needed to validate our hypothesis, and we can do so by proposing different segmentations and metrics that could be looked into.

The MECE framework

Lastly, a very strong framework to utilize and supplement our answer to the question would be the MECE framework. Utilized by management consultants, it stands for “mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive” and involves breaking a problem down by creating a decision tree for issues and hypotheses.

We don’t want to rehash something that’s already been done, so we can read more about it in-depth in the “MECE Guide” in the Appendix. We’ll be referring to it throughout this section.

An example of a question on Friend Requests

Let’s apply the four-pronged approach we just learned to our sample problem about friend requests and dive into how to answer this question in its totality.

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