Objectives and Key Results

I was introduced by my friend Julia to Google’s OKR system in our discussion in helping manage teams’ accountability to goals during the accelerator program.

Recently I started tracking my own project in this format, and thought about implementing this system within our team, and perhaps in the program.

A timely article on Business Insider introduced me to this post: Startup Lab workshop—How Google sets goals: OKRs by Rick Klau (Product Partner at Google Ventures).

This workshop recording is excellent. Rick Klau went over:

His live video is here, and these are my notes.

 A High Level View of OKR

 Keys to OKR

 Why OKR?

 John Doerr

John Doerr introduced OKR to Google when Google was under 1 year old. He was trying to reinforce:

 Virtuous Cycle

Typical Process

Each company goes through a goal setting exercise naturally.

 Googlers View on OKR

OKR is data: it tells you what to do and what not to do.

 OKR’s Advantages

 How to define OKR?

Rick Klau used an analogy of a football team to help us understand the difference between Individual’s, Team’s, and Company’s OKRs.

 49ers Objective for individuals/units

In general terms, the following are some of his tips on defining OKRs.

 Objectives (looking forwards)

 Key Results (grading backwards)

 What to do to implement OKR?

 Personal OKR (this is around 35:00 in video)

Sometimes to achieve certain Objectives you need to conduct experiments. Don’t assume you have the answer, experiments to test impact. Key Results can be how many successful experiments that help you understand the growth.

 Grading

Grading

For Team and Company wide OKRs you review quarterly, and explain why you got the grade that you did, what you are going to do differently going into the next quarter, and set upcoming quarter’s OKR.

 Communications between individuals and team

Communications

 OKR is not an employee evaluation metric

 Adoption in Your Team

 Tools & Mentality

 Implementing a 3 months trial

Implementation Timeline

 Blogger As An Example by Rick Klau

Rick was the PM on Blogger after it was acquired by Google in 2007. He gave 3 examples in the video, and I wanted to use one that was simple to understand. This one didn’t touch on metrics in terms of numbers.

 Example: Personal OKR

Sample Personal OKR

 In Summary

Rick’s summed it up really well in his blog post.

Though the video goes into more detail, here are a few keys to what make OKRs work at Google:

  • Objectives are ambitious, and should feel somewhat uncomfortable
  • Key Results are measurable; they should be easy to grade with a number (at Google we use a 0 – 1.0 scale to grade each key result at the end of a quarter)
  • OKRs are public; everyone in the company should be able to see what everyone else is working on (and how they did in the past)
  • The “sweet spot” for an OKR grade is .6 – .7; if someone consistently gets 1.0, their OKRs aren’t ambitious enough. Low grades shouldn’t be punished; see them as data to help refine the next quarter’s OKRs.

ps. The notes are taken while I was watching the workshop recording. All terms are from Rick’s presentation. All credits to him!

 
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