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The power of OKRs : Measure What Matters by John Doerr

Lakshmi Doddi
4 min readOct 7, 2019


Measure What Matters by John Doerr is an interesting book and after reading the book page to page, I had a better understanding of goal setting and the power of OKRs. I am convinced that the shorter term goals that drive the actual work, they keep annual plans honest and executed.

OKRs short for Objectives and Key Results. An objective is significant, concrete, action oriented, and inspirational. Effective Key Results are specific and time-bound, aggressive yet realistic. You either meet a key result’s requirements or you don’t. Objectives are the stuff of inspiration and far horizons. Key results are more earth-bound and metric-driven.

Edwin Locke, said “hard goals” drive performance more effectively than easy goals. Second, specific goals “produce a higher level of output” than vaguely worded ones.

OKRs superpowers:

  • Focus & commitment to priorities
  • Align and connect
  • Tracking
  • Stretching

SuperPower #1: Focus and commit to priorities

  • Focusing on the handful of initiatives that can make a real difference, deferring less urgent ones.
  • Objectives, what count should be chosen by leaders. It should be clearly communicate what our main priorities for the coming period, where people should concentrate their efforts.
  • People need more than milestones, they need meaning to understand how their goals relate to the mission.
  • Choose the metrics which matters to the success of the business not only short term but also long term.
  • To inspire true commitment, leaders must practice what they teach. They must model the behavior they expect of others.

SuperPower #2: Align and connect for Teamwork

  • OKRs brings alignment in the org and expose redundant efforts and save time and money.
  • Transparency seeds collaboration and it creates very clear signals for everyone.
  • OKRs values of transparency and accountability. Publishing our objectives on a wiki that anyone in the company can see.
  • OKRs should tie individual key activity to key result of their manager’s OKR, which ties to top level objective and company mission.

SuperPower #3: Track for Accountability

  • OKRs are living, breathing organisms. They’are meant to be guardrails, not chains or blinders. We have four options at any point in the cycle:-
  • Continue: If a green zone, goal is not broken, don’t fix it
  • Update: Modify to a yellow zone, OKR at risk without addressing concerns
  • Start: Launch a new OKR mid-cycle, whenever the need arises
  • Stop: A red zone — goal has outlived its usefulness or blocked.
  • OKRs are scrutinized several times per quarter by contributors and their managers. Progress is reported, obstacles identified, key results refined.
  • Hold regular meetings, one-on-ones to evaluate progress toward shared objectives.
  • A committed OKR is failing, a rescue plan is devised.
  • OKR numbers are objective. A scale of 0 to 1.0 : 0.7 to 1.0 — green(we delivered), 0.4–0.6 — yellow(short of completion) 0.0 to 0.3 — red ( we failed to make real progress)
  • OKR scores pinpoint what went right or wrong in the work, and how the team might improve, self -assessments drive a superior goal setting process for the next quarter.

SuperPower #4: Stretch for Amazing

  • OKRs supposed to push far beyond our comfort zones. They lead us to achievements on the border between abilities and dreams.
  • In pursuing high-effort, and high-risk goals, employee commitment is essential. Leaders must convey two things : the importance of the outcome, and the belief that it’s attainable.

Continuous Performance Management:

  • It’s the relationship with people, the development of mutual confidence ..the creation of a community.
  • CFRs — Conversations, Feedback and Recognition.
  • Conversations: an authentic, richly textured exchange between manager and contributor, aimed at driving performance
  • Feedback: bidirectional or networked communication among peers to evaluate progress and guide future improvement
  • Recognition: expressions of appreciation to deserving individuals for contributions of all sizes
  • Each quarter multiple check-ins should happen from setting expectations to giving and receiving feedback.
  • By scheduling regular check-ins throughout the year, individual and their manager apprised of their progress against action items and goals from prior conversations, along with development needs and ideas for how they might grow.
  • Leaders become better communicators and motivators.


  • Growing numbers of job seekers and career builders are making the right cultural fit their top criterion.
  • Vision-based leadership beats command-and-control. The flatter the org chart, the more agile the organization. When performance management is a networked, two-way street, individuals grow into greatness.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ideas are easy, execution is everything.
  • Objectives are significant, concrete, action-oriented, and (literally) inspirational and audacious. “hard goals” drive performance more effectively than easy goals.
  • Setting a measurable objective for the year and chunk the problem quarter by quarter, moonshot become more doable.
  • Key results are metric-driven. They should include hard numbers such as revenue, growth, active users, quality, safety, and customer engagement etc.,
  • Better metrics are must and important. Identifying metrics which matters are important, otherwise the entire company will be working and tracking the wrong metrics. Metrics should be selected taking account of long term strategy and brand values.
  • Every OKR should have a single owner with other team linked up as needed. OKRs enables to see what people working across the whole organization and their progress.
  • OKRs should be scrutinized several times per quarter by contributors and their manager. Progress should be reported, obstacles identified, and key results refined.
  • Leaders must convey two things: the importance of the outcome, and the belief that it’s attainable.
  • OKRs lend us purpose and clarity, where CFRs(Conversation, Feedback and Recognition) supply the energy needed for the journey.
  • People have authentic conversations and get constructive feedback and recognition for superior accomplishment, enthusiasm become infectious.