Measure What Matters is a great business book by venture capitalist John Doerr. It is about how the disciplined use of objectives and key results (OKRs) has helped companies like Google and Intel excel. (Thank you, SF, for giving me the book!)
Doerr brought the OKR concept to Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin during the company’s early days, and they credit the practice to much of the company’s success. Doerr had learned the practice while working with Andy Grove—the Father of OKRs—at Intel years before.
In short, objectives are the big picture aspirations of a business, and key results are the measurable goals the business must accomplish in order to achieve the objective. Here’s an example from the book. It relates to Intel’s famous “Operation Crush” back in the 1980s as it set out to reclaim market dominance in the microprocessor industry:
Establish the 8086 as the highest-performance 16-bit microprocessor family, as measured by:
Key Results for Q2:
Intel was wildly successful in this initiative, and they credited OKRs for this success. There are many, more recent examples of OKRs in action in the book.
Doerr writes in the book that OKRs have four superpowers:
Measure What Matters provides proof of the power of structured goal setting combined with data-driven accountability. Businesses need both elements to succeed.
In my writing, and in the Strategy and Operations Alignment System™ I use to help businesses get results, I use different terminology than OKRs, but it amounts to the same thing. I call objectives “impact goals” and I call key results “building blocks”. Setting impact goals and building blocks are part of the 3-Year, 1-Year, and 90-Day plans that all businesses should have in place.
The key is that the building blocks required to achieve the impact goal (or the key results required to achieve the objective) must be measurable. There is no gray area in them. The business either achieves them or they don’t. And the achievement of the building blocks by definition means that the impact goal will be reached.
When you combine this process with a weekly review of the progress of the building blocks, and the key data related to them, you’ve got the rocket fuel to propel your business forward.