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Measure what matters by John Doerr – Remarks

Posted by Raul Barral Tamayo en martes, 29 de diciembre, 2020


Copyright © 2018 by Bennet Group, LLC.

In the fall of 1999, John Doerr introduced the founders of Google, then a small start-up he’d just given nearly $12 million, to a proven approach to operating excellence: Objectives and Key Results.

He had first discovered OKRs in the 1970s as an engineer at Intel, where Andy Grove drove the best-run company he had ever seen. Later, as a venture capitalist, he shared Grove’s brainchild with more than fifty companies. Wherever the process was faithfully practiced, it worked.

In the OKR model, objectives define what we seek to achieve ; key results are how those top-priority goals will be attained with specific, measurable actions and within a set time frame. Everyone’s goals, from entry-level contributors to the CEO, are transparent to the entire organization. The benefits are profound. OKRs surface an organization’s most important work. They focus effort and foster coordination. They link objectives across departments to unify and strengthen the entire company. Along the way, OKRs enhance workplace satisfaction and boost performance and retention.

This book will help a new generation of leaders capture the same magic.

John Doerr is the chair of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, which he joined in 1980. By investing in some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and companies, including Amazon, Google, Intuit, Netscape, and Twitter, he has helped create more than 425,000 jobs.

Comments extracted from the book, they could be right or wrong, you decide for yourself:

  • I’d come to a philosophy, my mantra: Ideas are easy. Execution is everything.
  • OKRs are not a silver bullet. They cannot substitute for sound judgement, strong leadership, or a creative workplace culture.
  • A management methodology that helps to ensure that the company focuses efforts on the same important issues throughout the organization.
  • An objective is simply what is to be achieved, no more no less. 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 we get to the objective. Effective KRs are specific and time-bound, aggresive yet objective. Most of all, they are measurable and verifiable. You either meet a key result’s requirement or you don’t; there is no gray area, no room for doubt.
  • OKRs surface your primary goals. They channel efforts and coordination. They link diverse operations, lending purpose and unity to the entire organization.
  • Like any management system, OKRs maybe be executed well or badly.
  • For nayone striving for high performance in the workplace, goals are very necessary things.
  • Edwin Locke: «First, hard goals drive performance more effectively than easy goals. Second, specific hard goals produce a higher level of output than vaguely worded ones».
  • Among experiments in the field, 90% confirm that productivity is enhanced by well-defined, challenging goals.
  • Goal setting isn’t bulletproof: «When people have conflicting prioirities or unclear, meaningless, or arbitrarily shifting goals, they become frustrated, cynical, and demotivated».
  • An effective goal management system links goals to a team’s broader mission. It respects targets and deadlines while adapting to circumstances. It promotes feedback and celebrates wins, large and small. Most important, it expands our limits. It moves us to strive for what seem beyond our reach.
  • A decisive ingredient for OKR success: conviction and buy-in at the top.
  • In today’s economy, change is a fact of life. We cannot cling to what’s worked and hope for the best. We need a trusty scythe to carve a path ahead of the curve.
  • OKR are a shared language for execution. They clarify expectations: What do we need to get done (and fast), and who’s working on it? They keep employes aligned, vertically and horizontally.
  • Many companies hav ea «rule of seven» limiting managers to a maximum of seven direct reports. In some cases, Google has flipped the rule to a minimum of seven. The higher the ratio of reports, the flatter the org chart.
  • Objectives and key results drive clarity, accountability, and the uninhibited pursuit of greatness.
  • When OKRs take root, merit trumps seniority. Managers become coaches, mentors, and architects. Actions, and data, speak louder than words.
  • The four OKR «superpowers»: focus, align, track and stretch.
    1. Focus and commit to priorities. High-performance organizations home in on work that’s important, and are equally clear on what doesn’t matter. OKRs impel leaders to make hard choices.
    2. Align and connect for teamwork.  Everyone’s goals, from the CEO down, are openly shared. By connecting each contributor to the organization’s success, top-down alignment brings meaning to work. By deepening people’s sense of ownership, bottom-up OKRs foster engagement and innovation.
    3. Track for accountability. OKRs are driven by data. They are animated by periodic check-ins, objective grading, and continuous reassessment, all in a spirit of no-judgement accountability. An endangered key result triggers action to get it back on track, or to revise or replace it if warranted.
    4. Stretch for amazing. OKRs motivate us to excel by doing more than we’d thought possible. By testing our limits and affording the freedom to fail, they release our most creative, ambitious selves.
  • Andy Groove: «There are so many people working so hard and achieving so little».
  • Andy Groove: «It almost doesn’t matter what you know. It’s what you can do with whatever you know or can acquire and actually accomplish tends to be valued here». Hence the company’s slogan: «Intel delivers».
  • Grove had followed the trail of a legendary, Vienna-born gadfly, the first great «modern» business management thinker: Peter Drucker.
  • Frederick Winslow Taylor: «knowing exactly what you want men to do and then see that they do it in the best and cheapest way». Grove noted: «crisp and hierarchical: there were those who gave orders and those who took orders and executed them without question».
  • Peter Drucker took a wrecking ball to the Taylor-Ford model. A corporation should be a community «built on trust and respect for the workers, not just a profit machine». He urged that subordinates be consulted on company goals. Instead of a crisis management, he proposed a balance of long- and short-range planning, informed by data and enriched by regular conversations among colleagues. He discerned a basic truth of human nature: When people help choose a course of action, they are more likely to see it through.
  • In 1954, in his landmark book The Practice of Management, Drucker codified this principle as «management by objectivs and self-control». It became Andry Grove’s foundation and the genesis of what we now call the OKR.
  • Andy Grove’s quantum leap was to apply manufacturing production principles to the «soft professions», the administrative, professional, and managerial ranks.
  • Grove wrestled with two riddles: How can we define and measure output by knowledge workers? And what can be done to increase it?
  • Grove was hard on everybody, most of all himself. The best way to solve a management problem, he believed, was through «creative confrontation», by facing people «bluntly, directly, and unapologetically».
  • Some lessons I learned at intel from the master and from Jim Lally, Andy’s OKR disciple and my mentor:
    • Less is more. Grove: «A few extremely well-chosen objectives impart a clear message about what we say ‘yes’ to and what we say ‘no’ to». A limit of three to five OKRs per cycle leads companies, temas, and individuals to choose what matter most.
    • Set goals from the bottom up. When all goals are set top-down, motivation is corroded.
    • No dictating. OKRs are a coopertive social contract to establish priorities and define how progress will be measured. Collective agreement is essential to maximum goal achievement.
    • Stay flexible. If the climate has changed and an objective no longer seems practical or relevant as written, key results can be modified or even discarded mid-cycle.
    • Dare to fail. Grove: «Output will tend to be greater when everybody strives for a level of achievement beyond inmmediate grasp». Stretched goals push organizations to new heights.
    • A tool, not a weapon. Grove: «The OKR system is meant to pace a person, to put a stopwatch in his own hadn so he can gauge his own performance. It is not a legal document upon which to base a performance review». OKRs and bonuses are best kept separate.
    • Be patience; be resolutive. Every process requires trial and error. An organization may need up to four or five quarterly cycles to fully embrace the system, and even more than that to build mature goal muscle.
  • Bill Davidow: «We wrote down the things that needed special emphasis. I doubt I ever had a key result that said, ‘Walk around to stay on top of employees’ morale'».
  • Andy Groove: «Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them».
  • J. K. Rowling: «It is our choices … that show that we truly are, far more than our abilities».
  • Successful organizations focus on the handful of initiatives that can make a real difference, deferring less urgent ones. Their leaders commit to those choices in word and deed. By standing firmly behind a few top-line OKRs, they give their teams a compass and a baseline for assessment.
  • An effective goal-setting system starts with disciplined thinking at the top, with leaders who invest the time and energy to choose what counts.
  • The most powerful and energizing OKRs often originate with frontline contributors.
  • Regardless of how leaders choose a company’s top-line goals, they also need goals of their own.
  • When I hear CEOs say «All my goals are team goals», it’s a red flag.
  • Bill Campbell: «When you’re the CEO or the founder of a company … you have to model it. Because if you don’t model it, no one’s going to do it».
  • For sound decision making, esprit de corps, and superior performance, top-line goals must be clearly understood throughout the organization.
  • People need more than milestones for motivation. They are thirsty for meaning, to understand how their goals relate to the mission.
  • Peter Drucker: «To make reliable progress a manager must be able to measure … performance and results against the goal».
  • If an objective is well framed, three to five KRs will usually be adequate to reach it. Too many can dilute focus and obscure progress.
  • Each key result should be a challenge in its own right. If you’re certain you’re going to nail it, you’re probably not pushing hard enough.
  • The best practice may be a parallel, dual cadence, with short-horizon OKRs supporting annual OKRs and longer-term strtegies. It’s the shorter-term goals that drive the actual work. They keep annual plans honest, and executed.
  • Clear-cut frames intensify our focus and commitment; nothing moves us forward like a deadline.
  • The best OKR cadence is the one that fits the context and culture of your business.
  • The more ambitious the OKR, the greater the risk of overlooking a vital criterion. To safeguard quality while pushing for quantitative deliverables, one solution is to pair key results, to measure «both effect and counter-effect».
  • Voltaire: «Don’t allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good».
  • An OKR can be modified or even scrapped at any point in its cycle. Sometimes the «right» key results surface weeks or months after a goal is put into play. OKRs are inherently works in progress, not commandments chiseled in stone.
  • Completion of all key results must result in attainment of the objective. If not, it’s not an OKR.
  • Too many objectives can blur focus on what counts, or distract into chasing the next shiny thing.
  • Selective goal setting is the first line of defense against getting overextended.
  • In a high-functioning OKR system, top-down mandates to «just do more» are obsolte.
  • Orders give way to questions, and to one question in particular: What matters most?
  • Each time you make a commitment, you forgeit your chance to commit to something else.
  • OKRs are neither a catchall wish list nor the sum of a team’s mundane tasks. They’re a set of stringently curated goals that merit special attention and will move people forward in the here and now. They link to the larger purpose we’re expected to deliver around.
  • Andy Groove: «The art of management lies in the capacity to select from the many activities of seemingly comparable significance the one or two or three that provide leverage well beyond the others and concentrate on them».
  • As companies scale, people need to see the CEO’s priorities and how they can align for maximum impact. And they need to see it’s okay to make a mistake, to correct it and move on. You can’t fear screwing up. That squelches innovation.
  • Until your executives are fully on board, you can’t expect contributors to follow suit, especially when a company’s OKRs are aspirational. People naturally look to their bosses in setting goals and following through.
  • To inspire true commitment, leaders must practice what they teach. They must model the behavior they expect of others.
  • You’re not going to get the system just right the first time around. It’s not going to be perfect the second or third time, either. But don’t get discouraged. Persevere. You need to adapt it and make it your own.
  • The hairier the mission, the more important your OKRs.
  • Steve Jobs: «We don’t hire smart people to tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what do do».
  • Aaron Levie, founder and CEO of Box: «At any given time some significant percentage of people are working on the wrong things. The challenge is knowing which ones».
  • Research shows that public goals are more likely to be attained than goals held in private. Simply flipping the switch to «open» lifts achievement across the board.
  • In an OKR system, the most junior staff can look at everyone’s goals, on up to CEO. Critiques and corrections are out in public view.
  • Transparency seeds collaboration.
  • Everything seems important; everything seems urgent. But what really needs to get done?
  • cascading makes an operation more coherent. But when all objectives are cascaded, the process can degrade into a mechanical, color-by-numbers exercise, with four adverse effects:
    1. A loss of agility. As everyone waits for the waterfall to trickle down from above, and meetings and reviews sprout like weeds, each goal cycle can take weeks or even months to administer.
    2. A lack of flexibility. Since it takes so much effort to formulate cascaded goals, people are reluctant to revise them mid-cycle.
    3. Marginalized contributors. Rigidly cascaded systems tend to shut out input from frontline employees.
    4. One-dimensional linkages. While cascading locks in vertical alignment, it’s less effective in connecting peers horizontally, across departamental lines.
  • Precisely because OKRs are transparent, they can be shared without cascading them in lockstep.
  • To avoid compulsive, soul-killing overalignment, healthy organizations encourage some goals to emerge from the bottom up.
  • Innovation tends to dwell less at the center of an organization than at its edges.
  • In business, I have found, there is rarely a single right answer. By loosening the reins and backing people to find their right answers, we help everybody win.
  • High-functioning teams thrive on a creative tension between top-down and bottom-up goal setting, a mix of aligned and unaligned OKRs.
  • OKRs are not islands. To the contrary, they create networks (vertical, horizontal, diagonal) to connect an organization’s most vital work.
  • Even when two or more teams have parallel objectives, their key results should be distinct.
  • The more ambitious the stretch in the objective, the more conservatively people made their KRs, a classic unintended consequence. So we learned to design our goals to fit the context.
  • W. Edwards Demin: «In God we trust; all others must bring data».
  • Contributors are most engaged when they can actually see how their work contributes to the company’s success.
  • Research suggests that making measured headway ca be more incentivizing than public recognition, monetary inducements, or even achieving the goal itself.
  • Daniel Pink, Drive: «The single greatest motivator is making progress in one’s work».
  • Peter Drucker: «Without an action plan, the executive becomes a prisoner of events. And without check-ins to reexamine the plan as events unfold, the execute has no way of knowing which events really matter and which are only noise».
  • While OKRs are primarily a positive force for more, they also stop us from persisting in the wrong direction.
  • original entry: https://raulbarraltamayo.wordpress.com/2020/12/29/measure-what-matters-by-john-doerr/
  • When an objective gets dropped before the end of the OKR interval, it’s important to notify everyone depending on it.
  • Whenever a committed OKR is failing, a rescue plan is devised.
  • OKRs do not expire with completion of the work. As in any data-driven system, tremendous value can be gained from post hoc evaluation and analysis.
  • The point of objectives and key results is to get everyone working on the right things.
  • In my view, the key to satisfaction is to set aggresive goals, achieve most of them, pause to reflect on the achievement, and then repeat the cycle.
  • Jon Deswey, philosopher and educator: «We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience».
  • Reflections for closing out an OKR cycle:
    • Did I accomplish all of my objectives? If so, what contributed to my success?
    • If not, what obstacles did I encounter?
    • If I were to rewrite a goal achieved in full, what would I change?
    • What have I learned that might alter my approach to the next cycle’s OKRs?
  • An unfinished objective might be rolled over to the next quarter, with a fresh set of key result, or perhaps its moment has passed, and it is appropiately dropped.
  • The higher the stakes, the more important it is to track progress, to flag looming problems, dobule back from dead ends, and modify goals on the run.
  • They didn’t see it as a possibility, so they weren’t pushing as hard to make it a reality. That was our bigest advantage. We aimed higher.
  • In philantrophy, I see people confusing objectives with missions all the time. A mission is directional. An objective has a set of concrete steps that you’re intentionally engaged in and actually trying to go for.
  • Having a mission is not enough. You need a concrete objective, and you need to know how you’re going to get there.
  • Until you set a really big goal, you can’t find out which lever or mix of levers is most important.
  • Setting the big goals wasn’t as hard as breaking them down.
  • Mellody Hobson: «The biggest risk of all is not taking one».
  • OKRs push us far beyond our comfort zones. They lead us to achievements on the border between abilities and dreams.
  • Conservative goal setting stymies innovation. An innovation is like oxygen: You cannot win without it.
  • According to Abraham Maslow, only after we satisfy more basic concerns, starting with food and shelter, then safety, then «love» and «belongingness», can we move to higher-level motivations (Esteem and Self-Actualization).
  • At Google, in line with Andy Groove’s old standard, aspirational OKRs are set at 60 o 70% attainment. And that’s considered success!
  • Over time, as teams and individuals gain experience with OKRs, their key results will become more precise and more aggresive.
  • Larry Page: «If you set a crazy, ambitious goal and miss it, you’ll still achieve something remarkable».
  • As a leader, you must try to challenge the team without making them feel the goal is unachievable.
  • Whenever we invent something new at Google, we’re always thinking: How can we sacle it to a billion?
  • OKRs are the way we think about everything at Google, they way we’ve always done it.
  • I’d say that OKRs are especially useful for young companies just starting to build their culture. When you’re little, with fewer resources, it’s even more vitals to be clear on where you’re going.
  • OKRs require organization. You need a leader to embrace the process and a lieutenant to ride herd over scoring and reviews.
  • Satya Nadelia, Microsoft CEO: «the true scarce comodity is increasingly human attention».
  • It’s fine for viewers to learn to tie bow ties, nad if that’s all they want, they’ll choose the one-minute manual. But that’s not what YouTube was about, not really. Our job was to keep people engaged and hanging out with us.
  • Stretch goals can be crushing if people don’t believe they’re achievable.
  • Annual performance reviews are costly, exhausting, and mostly futile.
  • What business leaders have learned, very painfully, is that individuals cannot be reduced to numbers.
  • Albert Einstein: «Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted».
  • Continous performance management is implemented with an instrument called CFRs:
    • 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 individual for contributions of all sizes.
  • When goals are used and abused to set compensation, employees can be counted on to sandbag. They start playing defense; they stop stretching for amazing. They get bored for lack of challenge.
  • Based on BetterWorks’ experience with hundreds of enterprises, five critical areas have emerged of conversation between manager and contributor:
    1. Goal setting and reflection, where the employee’s OKR plan is set for the coming cycle. The discussion focuses on how best to align individual objectives and key results with organizational priorities.
    2. Ongoing progress updates, the brief and data-driven check-ins on the employee’s real-time progress, with problem solving as needed.
    3. Two-way coaching, to help contributors reach their potential and managers do a better job.
    4. Career growth, to develop skills, identify growth oportunities, and expand employees’ vision of their future at the company.
    5. Lightweight performance reviews, a feedback mechanism to gather inputs and summarize what the employee has accomplished since the last meeting, in the context of the organization’s needs.
  • As workplace conversations become integral, managers are evolving from taskmasters to teachers, coaches, and mentors.
  • Today’s workers, want to be «empowered» and «inspired», not told what to do. They want to provide feedback to their managers, not wait for a year to receive feedback from their managers.
  • AS OKRs are combined with 360-degree feedback, the silo will soon be a relic of the past.
  • Continuous recognition is a powerful driver of engagement. Here are some ways to implement it:
    • Institute peer-to-peer recognition. When employee achievements are consistently recognized by peers, a culture of gratitude is born.
    • Establish clear criteria. Recognize people for actions and results.
    • Share recognition stories. Newsletters or company blogs can supply the narrative behind the accomplishment, giving recognition more meaning.
    • Make recognition frequent and attainable. Hail smaller accomplishments, too.
    • Tie recognition to company goals and strategies.
  • Corrective feedback is naturally difficult for people.  But when done well, it’s also the greatest gift you can give to someone, because it can change people’s mindset and modify their behavior in the most positive, valuable way.
  • Success isn’t built by forms and rankings and ratings. It’s not driven by policies and programs that bog people down and get in their way. The true mechanims for success are the ones that build capabilities and enable people to deliver for the company.
  • Turnover is costly. The best turnover is internal turnover, where people are growing their careers within your enterprise rather than moving someplace else. People aren’t wired to be nomads.
  • Jeff Bezos: «You need a culture that high-fives small and innovative ideas».
  • Culture, as they saying goes, eats strategy for breakfast. It’s our stake in the ground; it’s what makes meaning of work.
  • An OKR culture is an accountable culture. You don’t push toward a goal just because the boss gave you an order. You do it because every OKR is transparently important to the company, and to the colleagues who count on you.
  • Where people have authentic conversations and get constructive feedback and recognition for superior accomplishment, enthusiasm becomes infectious. The same goes for stretch thinking and a commitment to daily improvement.
  • Dov Seidman, preeminent business philosopher: «In the past when employees just needed to do the next thing right (to follow to the letter) culture didn’t matter so much. But now we’re living in a world where we’re asking people to do the next right thing. A rulebook can tell me what I can or can’t do. I need culture to tell me what I should do».
  • Given the chance, OKRs and CFRs will build top-down alignment, team-first networking, and bottom-up autonomy and engagement, the pillars of any vibrant, value-driven culture.
  • When an organization isn’t yet ready for total openness and accountability, culture work may be needed before OKRs are implemented. Jim Collins, Good to Great: «first you need to get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. Only then do you turn the wheel and step on the gas».
  • HR can be a potent vehicle for operating excellence. It’s also the place where culture change is crystallized, at the ened of the day, culture is about the people you recruit and the values they bring to bear.
  • Objective: Institute a culture that attracts and retains A players. Key results:
    • Focus on hiring A players managers / leaders.
    • Optimize recruitment function to attract A player talent.
    • Scrub all job descriptions.
    • Retrain everyone engaged in the interviewing process.
    • Ensure ongoing mentoring / coaching opportunities.
    • Create a culture of learning for development of new and existing employees.
  • Transparency is scary. Admitting your failures (visibly, publicly) can be terrifying.
  • Once you start having honest, vulnerable, two-way conversations with your direct reports, you begin to see what makes them tick.
  • Goal setting is more art than science.
    • Why is transparency important? Why would you want people across other departments to know your goals? And why does what we’re doing matter?
    • What is true accountability? What’s the difference between accountability with respect (for others’ failings) and accountability with vulnerability (for your own)?
    • How can OKRs help managers’ «get work done through others»? How do we engage other teams to adopt our objective as a priority and help assure that we reach it?
    • When is it time to stretch a team’s workload, or to ease off on the throttle? When do you shift an objective to a different team member, or rewrite a goal to make it clearer, or remove it completely? In building contributors’ confidence, timing is everything.
  • Senegalese proverb: «If you want to cut a man’s hari, it is better if he is in the room».
  • Be careful if you think you know what we want. Because we know what we want. You’re not african, and this messiah complex hasn’t always turned out so well.
  • Muhammad Ali: «What keeps me going is goals».
  • Bill Campbell’s deceptively modest-sounding motto: «Be better every day». There is nothing more challenging, or more fulfilling, than that.
  • No one has more collective experience in implementing OKRs than Google.
    • Writing Effective OKRs
      • Objectives are the «Whats». They:
        • express goals and intents;
        • are aggresive yet realistic;
        • must be tangible, objective, and unambiguous; should be obvious to a rational observer whether an objective has been achieved.
        • The successful achievement of an objective must provide clear value.
      • Key Result are the «Hows». They:
        • express measurable milestones which, if achieved, will advance objective(s) in a useful manner to their constituents;
        • must describe outcomes, not activities. If you KRs include words like «consult», «help», «analyze», or «participate» they describe activities. Instead, describe the end-user impact of these activities;
        • must include evidence of completion. This evidence must be available, credible, and easily discoverable. Examples of evidence include change lists, links to docs, notes, and published metrics reports.
    • Cross-team OKRs
      • Cross-team OKRs should include all the groups who must materially participate in the OKR and OKRs committing to each group’s contribution should appear explicitly in each such group’s OKRs.
    • Committed vs. Aspirational OKRs
      • Committments are OKRS that we agree will be achieved, and we will be willing to adjust schedules and resources to ensure that they are delivered. The expected score is 1.0; a score of less than 1.0 requires explanation for the miss, as it shows errors in planning and/or execution.
      • Aspirational OKRs express how we’d like the world to look, even though we have no clear idea how to get there and/or the resources necessary to deliver the OKR. They have an expected average score of 0.7, with high variance.
    • Classic OKR-Writing Mistakes and Traps
      • Trap #1: Failing to differentiate between committed and aspirational OKRs.
        • Making a committed OKR as aspirational increases the chance of failure. Teams may not take it seriously and may not change their other priorities to focus on delivering the OKR.
        • Marking an aspirational OKR as committed creates defensiveness in teams who cannot find a way to deliver the OKR, and it invites priority inversion as committed OKRs are de-staffed to focus on the aspirational OKR.
      • Trap #2: Business-as-usual OKRs.
        • OKRs are often written principally based on what the team believes it can achieve without changing anything they’re currently doing, as opposed to what the team or its customers really want.
      • Trap #3: Timid aspirational OKRs.
        • Aspirational OKRs very often start from the current state and effectively ask, «What could we do if we had extra staff and got a bit lucky?». An alternative and better approach is to start with, «What could my (or my customers’) world look like in several years if we were freed from most constraints?».
        • Without understanding and articulating the desired en state, you guarantee that you are not going to be able to achieve it.
        • The litmus test: If you ask your customers what they really want, does your aspirational objective meet or exceed their request?
      • Trap #4:
        • A team’s committed OKRs should credibly consume most but not all of their available resources. Their committed + aspirational OKRs should credibly consume somewhat more than their available resources.
      • Trap #5: Low value objectives (aka the «Who cares?» OKR).
        • OKRs must promise clear business value, otherwise, there’s no reason to expend resources doing them.
        • Low value objectives are those for which, even if the Objective is completed with a 1.0, no one will notice or care.
        • Here is a litmus test: Could the OKR get a 1.0 under reasonable circumstances without providing direct end-user or economic benefit?
      • Trap #6: Insufficient KRs for commited Os.
        • OKRs are divided into the desired outcome (the objective) and the measurable steps required to achieve that outcome (they key results).
        • It is critical that KRs are written such that scoring 1.0 on all key results generates a 1.0 score for the objective.
        • A common error is writing key results that are necessary but not sufficient to collectively complete the objetive. The error is tempting because it allows a team to avoid the difficult commitments needed to deliver «hard» key results.
        • This trap is particularly pernicious because it delays both the discovery of the resource requirements for the objective, and the discovery that the objective will not be completed on schedule.
        • The litmus test: Is it reasonably possible to score 1.0 on all the key results but still not achieve the intent of the objective?
    • Reading, Interpreting and Acting on OKRs
      • For committed OKRs.
        • Teams are expected to rearrange their other priorities to ensure an on-schedule 1.0 delivery.
        • Teams who cannot credibly promise to deliver a 1.0 on a committed OKR must escalate promptly. This is a key point: Escalating in this (common) situation is not only OK, it is required. It allows the team’s management to develop options and resolve conflicts.
        • Every new OKR is likely to involve some amount of escalation, since it requires a change to existing priorities and commitments. An OKR that requires no changes to any group’s activities is a business-as-usual OKR.
        • A committed OKR that fails to achieve a 1.0 by its due date requires a postmortem. This is not intended to punish teams. It is intended to understand what ocurred in the planning and/or execution of the OKR.
      • Aspirational OKRs
        • The set of aspirational OKRs will by design exceed the team’s ability to execute in a given quarter. In general, higher priority OKRs should be completed before lower priority OKRs.
        • Aspirational OKRs and their associated priorities should remain on a team’s OKR list until they are completed, carrying them forward from quarter to quarter as necessary. Dropping them from the OKR list because of lack of progress is a mistake.
        • It is good to move an aspirational OKR to a different team’s list if that team has both the expertise and bandwith to accomplish the OKR more effectively than the current OKR owner.
        • Managers should not expect to receive all the required resources unless their aspirational OKRs are the highest priority in the company after the committed OKRs.
    • More Litmus Tests. Some simple tests to see if your OKRs are good:
      • If you wrote them down in five minutes, they probably aren’t good. Think.
      • If your objective doesn’t fit on one line, it probably isn’t crisp enough.
      • If your KRs are expressed in team-internal terms («Launch Foo 4.1»), they probably aren’t good. What matters isn’t the launch, but its impact.
      • Use real dates. If every key result happens on the last day of the quarter, you likely don’t have a real plan.
      • Make sure your key results are measurable: It must be possible to objectively assign a grade at the end of the quarter.
      • Make sure the metrics are unambiguous.
      • It there are important activities on your team (or a significant fraction of its effort) that aren’t covered by OKRs, add more.
      • For larger groups, make OKRs hierarchical, have high-level ones for the entire team, more detailed ones for subteams. Make sure that the «horizontal» OKRs have supporting key results in each subteam.

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raul

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