Measure What Matters (John Doerr) – Notes

  • OKR (Objective and Key Result)
  • Effective KRs are specific, time bound, aggressive but realistic. They are measurable. It’s not a result if it doesn’t have a number
  • You either meet a result … or you don’t
  • Review ORRs often
  • Goals are a fact of life for high achievers
  • Goals linked to broader company mission
  • Adherents to OKRs: AOL, Dropbox, Linkedin, Oracle, Slack, Spotify, Twitter
  • Small startups love OKRs to make sure people rowing in same direction
  • “OKRs are a shared language for execution. They clarify expectations: What do we need to get done (and fast) and who’s working on it? They keep employees aligned, vertically and horizontally”
  • OKRs help flatten management.
  • Superpower 1: Focus and commit to priorities – Also focus on what DOESNT matter. Precision tools for departments to communicate.
  • Superpower 2: Align and connect team – Everyone’s goals are transparent
  • Superpower 3: Track for accountability – Periodic checkins and grade ins. Constant feedback and iteration.
  • Superpower 4: Stretch for Amazing: “Shoot for stars. Make it there sometimes. Otherwise arrive on moon”
  • Andy Grove: “There are so many people working so hard and achieving so little”
  • KPIs are ok. But they’re numbers without soul or purpose. OKR has the soul (objective).
  • OKR is a tool not a weapon. Not to be used as a performance review punishment or linked to compensation.
  • Tell people go to central Europe, some will go to Germany, some to France. But if they’re transparent with their direction at least they’ll know they’re pointing in different directions. ie. Transparency
  • Bad companies are destroyed by crisis, good companies survive them, great companies are improved by them”
  • OKR needs an owner
  • 3-5 KR per objective
  • Annual objectives, measured quarterly (at least)
  • Pair quality with quantity in okrs. Not just quantity
  • Less is more with goal setting. Better focus. More realistic
  • If just starting out with OKRs in a startup, less is definitely more. Start small. Or you’ll get crushed. Start with high level team goals.
  • By definition, startups wrestle with ambiguity. The higher you are to the top, the more ambiguous and abstract your role is. OKRs can help crystalize objectives.
  • Research shows public goals are more often achieved (transparency for the win)
  • Healthy okr environment balances alignment and autonomy, common purpose and creative latitude
  • “More meetings” is often compensating for lack of transparency. This should be more adhoc than structured constant meetings.
  • When new projects start, ask “where does this fit in with OKRs. If it doesn’t … ask “why are we doing this?”
  • Perhaps review OKRs at each sprint review
  • Missions are even a higher level abstraction than objectives. Missions are directional. They are the guiding light that generate the objectives
  • Stretch goals. You need these too. Shoot for the stars. It’s ok (necessary actually) to only achieve 30% of these. If you hit them all … you’re not setting bar high enough.
  • 10x goal. Gotta be 10x better than anything else. Anything else is incremental and just noise.
  • Traditional performance reviews suck because of distorted recency bias (among other reasons)
  • CFRs – Continuous feedback recognition
  • “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.
  • Whole chapter about radical candour management (feedback in real time)
  • 1:1s are for the employee. Their agenda. Their time
  • Feedback can be awesome. But needs to be specific
  • OKRs teach you how to be an executive … before you’re actually an executive
  • Need the right culture for OKRS to work. “You need the right people off the bus, the right people on the bus, everyone seated in the right seat … before you can step on the gas
  • Need to have the customer as part of the conversation and focus “If you want to give someone a haircut, it’s best to have them in the same room”
  • There’s no dogma in the OKR. They are flexible.
  • If you can achieve an objective without providing direct user or economic benefit … then why is it an objective? Maybe it’s ill defined.
  • KR should be comprehensive of objective. ie. if you complete the KR, you should achieve the objective

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