I recently read Measure What Matters as our new executive at Humble Bundle is introducing OKRs as a means to drive the company towards our goals. The book was surprisingly interesting to read and made a good case for OKRs and the different ways in which you can use them. What follows below is the summary I made of the points from the book. Hopefully they can be helpful to some of you, :).

Objectives and Key Results

Choose OKRs that are a stretch. 100% completion is not a requirement.

It can take some time to build out OKRs (6 months to a year or more). You may want to start with a smaller pilot group and build up from there.

OKRs help departments come together to make sure that everyone is meeting their goals.

OKRs should not be tied to compensation. Tying to compensation leads to sandbagging of numbers.

OKRs can be adjusted midway if they are no longer relevant but adjustment should be accompanied by discussion and consensus.

The OKR creation process should be transparent and collaborative. OKRs are not meant to be assembled from on high and handed down as directives. The best top level OKRs end up being reflected in the OKRs written by individual contributors.

Progress on OKRs should be tracked continuously in smaller portions than the time period for the OKRs themselves (e.g. Weekly for Quarterly OKRs).

OKRs do not have to be quarterly or annual. They can be multi year endeavors if the situation calls for it.

OKRs do well when paired with CFR (Conversations, Feedback, Recognition). CFR allows for the steering of employees and keeping them on track rather than catching issues or optimizations outside of the moment when they are relevant (and avoids recency bias).

OKRs allow for the whole organization to move in the same direction on key goals and initiatives (e.g. Operation Crush). By using OKRs, a company can be much more agile and avoid the sluggishness that comes with size and scope.

OKRs provide clarity for everyday decision making and prioritization. Does this help me to achieve my OKR?

Key results should not exceed 3-5 per OKR.

OKRs should be graded (0-1, Green/Yellow/Red) to assess progress once the period has been ended.

For OKRs to succeed, a culture of trust and collaboration needs to exist. Individuals should be free (and safe) to fail. Without the right environment to operate within the potential unlocked by OKRs will continue to be held captive.

OKRs allow managers to scale through their direct rapports.

OKRs need to be transparent and publicly available. An active culture of viewing others’ OKRs is healthy and allows co-workers to direct themselves in an efficient fashion and plan for the needs and capabilities of other teams as a part of their process.

Getting everyone on board for OKRs may require consistent nudging and will likely require continuous effort to preserve and expand upon them.

OKRs provide clarity in challenging times and allow companies to re-evaluate their approach before its too late if they aren’t making needed progress.

Stretch goals can produce truly formidable results (Google Chrome rollout, push to 1 billion hours viewed for YouTube).

OKRs produce a meritocracy by tracking progress and results and not limiting recognition solely to those who speak the loudest or happen to be in the limelight.

OKRs bring focus and allow companies to commit fully to their priorities.

OKRs can also contain things like staying true to a company’s values and continuing to put users first (e.g. Zume and not sacrificing quality of ingredients in the push for growth and efficiency).

Different departments should collaborate to find what they can do to help each other succeed. OKRs should open up dialog for this to occur naturally.

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