Embrace OKRs

No book has influenced me in the last one year than the book Measure What Matters by John Doerr, which talks of the way performance is measured, monitored, and managed across some of the world’s most successful companies including Google.

For me, the book was more about building accountability across an organization and making the role of each person clear. It was also about linking the accountabilities of different people to ensure that there was a sense of camaraderie amongst teams and not a sense of competition and detachment.

I have not come across a more objective way of ensuring accountability than OKRs or objectives and key results. Objectives are the accountabilities that each person has, and key results are the results that happen when these accountabilities are met.

OKRs make the job simple for the people in the organization. They know what is expected from them and they know what not to do.

But the key is to set key results that are truly relevant. Let me give you some examples.

Imagine if the key result of the marketing team was to publish a certain number of blog articles. Would the marketing team be considered successful if they published these agreed number of articles? Should not the readership of these articles, which is a true reflection of the quality of articles and a better indicator of their performance, also be used as a measure?

Imagine a project manager who delivers his or her project within time. But what if the project overshot the budget and is full of bugs? Are not cost and quality equally important factors for the project manager?

The key to building accountability as I outlined in the previous chapter is to define these OKRs in the most objective manner as possible.

But more important is spending time in reviewing that on a regular basis. Do that every month if possible, but at least do it every quarter. Reset the OKRs every quarter. Even large companies spend two days a month reviewing their OKRs and goals every quarter.

So, go ahead and embrace OKRs. It is one key recipe for creating a simple organization. But make sure you continuously update the OKRs.

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