"Measure What Matters" - 2 minute book review

Nowadays, no need to explain why companies need to have public, transparent, and actionable objectives. Nowadays - yes, but it was not always like that. John E. Doerr in the book “Measure What Matters” tells the story of how he was one of the first ambassadors of the Objective and Key Results (OKR) as one of the backbones of any successful business. The book is full of interviews and stories from different giants like Google, Intel, etc., and their way of adopting OKR.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.” — Yogi Berra

What is OKR

An “objective” - is direction; “key results” - is measurable. Objective - what; key result -how (some examples). OKR is a way to define goals and clear guides on how to identify if they are achieved or not. You want to reach granularity when you can evaluate OKR on a scale from 0.0 to 1.0. Where 1.0 is totally achieved, 0.5 partially achieved, and so on.

If you don’t know how you are performing, how can you get better?

Why OKR matters

Goals increase alignment, productivity, and satisfaction. OKR help with:

  1. Focus - gives the power to win
  2. Alignment - aligns and coordinate teams
  3. Tracking - driven by data, help to track
  4. Scratching - scratch, motivated to excel, be creative

Greatest motivator is to feel progress in one’s work


So how to create a good OKR? There is no secret receipt or silver bullet. But there are some key points, following which might help you:

  • It is not OKR if it doesn’t have a number;
  • Hard goals give move output than easy goals;
  • Specific goals produce a better result;
  • Public and easily accessible;

OKRs rules from Intel:

  • Less is more - 3-5 goals per quarter
  • From the bottom - include teams to create at least 50% of their OKRs
  • No dictating - cannot agree? Then continue to negotiate
  • Be flexible - don’t be afraid to modify goals that are not relevant anymore
  • Dare to fail - the output is greater when the goal is not attainable (scratch goals)
  • Tools not weapons - keep away from bonus and salary
  • Trial and error - after a few quarters OKR becomes embedded into company culture and you don’t need such a strict process and control

“It almost doesn’t matter what you know. It’s what you can do with whatever you know.” Andrew Grove, Intel

Conversation, Feedback, Recognitions

You need to keep track of OKR progress and actuality, otherwise, they will transform into zombies. Conversation, Feedback, Recognitions(CFR) - is one of the instruments to make sure that OKR sticks. You need to create a culture of gratitude, share success stories. Use newsletters and other tools to bring awareness of attained goals and their importance.

This year failure as next year opportunity

OKR vs 360

You need to divorce compensation and OKR, otherwise, they might create a Cobra effect - people might do selfish things to achieve desired metrics.

Learn more about typical OKR cycle here

Personal opinion

For the major part of my career, I being using OKR to frame my teams vision as well as to ensure my personal development. “Measure What Matters” again proved to me the value of goal setting in personal and professional life. It is an easy and interesting read.

Measure What Matters

Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels