“Ideas are easy. Execution is everything.” ~ John Doerr, Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs
In a 90 minute presentation to Google staff on a fall day in 1999 John Doerr shared this mantra.
OKR’s, are a sharp-edged tool for world-class execution.
Doerr learned this tool in the 1970’s working for Intel’s Andy Grove, the greatest manager of his or any era (Doerr’s opinion, supported by the The New York Times, comment upon his death, “one of the most acclaimed and influential personalities of the computer and Internet era.”) who ran the best-run company Doerr has ever seen.
Two months before his presentation to Google’s staff, Doerr had been prescient enough to place his biggest bet as a venture capitalist, a $11.8 million wager for 12 percent of a start-up founded by a pair of Stanford grad school dropouts. He joined Google’s board, committed, financially and emotionally, to do all he could to help Google succeed.
In Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs, Doerr details what OKR’s are and how they’ve helped Google achieve success.
I’m currently listening and reading Measure What Matters, and strongly recommend it.
Barely a year after incorporating, Google had planted its flag to: “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Many businesses fail to understand the critical nature of defining their core purpose, crafting a Winning Aspiration, to raise the level of inspiration, motivation, and clarification to achieve the results the business desires to achieve.
Doerr shares Yogi Berra quote, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there,” to emphasize the value of OKR’s in his chapter Google, Meet OKRs.
Just as critical is Google’s Mission and Vision.
OKR’s are precisely the method Positioning Systems and Scaling Up prescribe in Execution one of the Four Decisions mid-size businesses need to grow. It’s the tool we coach our customers on: Strategic Discipline. It’s why our customers consistently achieve success.
Doer describes OKR’s as, “A management methodology that helps to ensure that the company focuses efforts on the same important issues throughout the organization.”
OBJECTIVE - WHAT is to be achieved, no more and no less. By definition, objectives are significant, concrete, action oriented, and (ideally) inspirational. When properly designed and deployed, they’re a vaccine against fuzzy thinking—and fuzzy execution.
KEY RESULTS - Benchmark and monitor HOW you get to your objective. Effective KRs are specific and time-bound, aggressive yet realistic. Most of all, they are measurable and verifiable. (“It’s not a key result unless it has a number.”) You either meet a key result’s requirements or you don’t; there is no gray area, no room for doubt. At the end of the designated period, typically a quarter, we declare the key result fulfilled or not. Where an objective can be long-lived, rolled over for a year or longer, key results evolve as the work progresses. Once they are all completed, the objective is necessarily achieved. (And if it isn’t, the OKR was poorly designed in the first place.)
OKRs surface your primary goals. They channel efforts and coordination. They link diverse operations, lending purpose and unity to the entire organization.
Specific Metrics Produce Higher Performance
This blog repeatedly emphasizes the critical nature of Priority, Metrics, and a Cadence of Accountability, the formula for Strategic Discipline. This theme of Execution Excellence is displayed in Pearson’s Law.
In 1968 Andy Grove, discovered Edwin Locke goal setting theory:
- “hard goals” drive performance more effectively than easy goals.
- Specific hard goals “produce a higher level of output” than vaguely worded ones.
In the intervening half century, more than a thousand studies confirm Locke’s discovery as “one of the most tested, and proven, ideas in the whole of management theory.” Among experiments in the field, 90 percent confirm that productivity is enhanced by well-defined, challenging goals.
Year after year, Gallup surveys attest to a “worldwide employee engagement crisis.” Less than a third of U.S. workers are “involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.”
Measuring performance is hard work. Your people are apt to mutiny when required to measure their performance, hiding behind the fear of “You can’t Measure What I do!”
People fear being measured, not because the best don’t want to be measure, but because they’re being measured for the wrong things!
Highly engaged work groups generate more profit and less attrition. According to Deloitte, the management and leadership consulting firm, issues of “retention and engagement have risen to No. 2 in the minds of business leaders, second only to the challenge of building global leadership.”
How do you build engagement? A two-year Deloitte study found that no single factor has more impact than “clearly defined goals that are written down and shared freely. . . . Goals create alignment, clarity, and job satisfaction.”
If you’re searching for higher performance, and more accountability I urge you to read, Measure What Matters. I’ll be sharing more on the book and its insights in future blogs.
Growth demands Strategic Discipline.
Positioning Systems is obsessively driven to improve your business and your team’s execution. 3 Strategic Disciplines: Priority, Metrics and Meeting Rhythms help your business dramatically improve your forecasting, individual and team performance to create alignment. Empower your team to achieve accelerated growth.
As an Execution Decision, Strategic Discipline increases your Profitability.
Positioning Systems helps your business achieve these outcomes on the Four most Important Decisions your business faces:
We help your business achieve Execution Excellence.
Positioning Systems helps mid-sized ($5M - $250M) business Scale-UP. We align your business to focus on Your One Thing! To achieve growth, you need to evolve in today’s rapidly changing economic environment. Have you been avoiding a conversation on how you can successfully grow your business? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to Scale Up your business! Take our Four Decisions Needs Assessment to discover how your business measures against other Scaled Up companies. We’ll contact you.
NEXT BLOG – Holiday Season
I’m traveling the next two weeks to present and facilitate my customers Annual Strategy and Planning meetings. I’ll return with my weekly blogs immediately before Christmas or New Year’s. Merry Christmas to you and your family!