15 Great Insights from the Google OKR Goals Video

As you know, Google’s Rick Klau has shared valuable insights on how Google uses Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to improve the management of the organization which everyone, from startups to well-established companies, can apply internally. There is a huge level of interest from all organizations globally in using objectives and goals-management to manage and accelerate performance and be aligned as a company – just look at how many people watched the Google OKR video: over 250,000 (i.e. that is a seriously VIRAL video in the world of business)!

After watching the 1 hour and 22 minute video, we wanted to do something special for our readers and customers by gleaning and sharing the top, unique insights from this Google OKR video. We actually took the time and watched this video several times and very slowly went through it step by step to create the unique transcript for this video.

Additionally, we did something else that we wanted to share – while watching the video, we jotted down 15 key spots in the video that we felt were especially critical – here are these 15 insights along with the exact time spot in the video where they appear.

  1. 2:07 – Companies should fight the urge to say: “Well, Google did it that way…” and, “That’s Google, we could never be like them,” etc. As Klau put it, Google wasn’t even Google until they began using OKRs – it was just a “young and ambitious” company. In other words, it could work for any company.
  1. 4:40 – The reason Google was so attracted to OKRs is because they provide data. The setting, tracking, and measuring of objectives and their corresponding key results provides concrete data, which can be used to benefit any organization.

The reason Google was so attracted to OKRs is because they provide data.

  1. 8:50 – OKRs are connected across the individual, team, and company levels. Klau uses the example of a football team: the head coach, defensive coordinator, and individual player each has his own set of OKRs, but they are all connected to the overall goals of winning games and selling tickets.
  1. 12:30 – Objectives should be a bit uncomfortable. As Klau puts it, if you know you’re going to nail it, you’re not trying hard enough.
  1. 13:50 – All OKRs contribute to company-level goals, but each individual’s set of OKRs is not necessarily a company-wide priority. Back to the football comparison: although the defensive coordinator may not be concerned with getting a feature in the Sunday paper like the PR team is, each team and individual’s OKRs all align back to the main priorities, which are playing well and achieving high attendance.
  1. 15:52 – OKRs inherently create discipline and transparency within an organization, because everyone can see what everyone else is working on.
  1. 18:37 – The writing and collaborating processes of developing OKRs often becomes a cyclical process – Klau uses term “virtuous cycle.”
  1. 21:00 – Allowing individuals to be a part of the OKR writing process could open up new discussions, and perhaps even provide new insights for upper-level management and other leaders.
  1. 24:50 – More than half of the objectives should come from the bottom up; in order for OKRs to be effective, they cannot all be dictated down from the top.
  1. 32:30 – It’s important to understand the difference between objectives and key results; Klau explains the two by using examples of actual OKRs that he composed in the past.
  1. 42:00 – In his examples of past OKRs, Klau refers to making a “measurable impact” with Blogger – but we wonder if that phrase could be better defined. A “measurable impact” to him might not be the same to another person. This one wasn’t so concrete and failed to have a number – which went against what he said earlier in the presentation, that each OKR should have a number with it.
  1. 54:00 – Low scores on OKRs should not be viewed as failures, because they still provide data and can act as a road map for the following quarter’s objectives.
  1. 55:30 – According to Klau, OKRs “don’t take a ton of time.” He further says that leaders can establish a rhythm very quickly when it comes to implementing and grading OKRs.
  1. 1:06:15 – Klau says you only need to have 1-2 one-on-one meeting per quarter. Yet, because data and feedback are crucial, weekly one-on-ones may better facilitate the OKR process. Having regular check-ins could prevent the need for the lengthy quarterly meetings Klau kept referring to, as well as formal, antiquated performance reviews.
  1. 1:16:50 – In response to a question about when a management team should adopt OKRs – Klau answers, “as soon as possible.” He says even if you’re a team of five, the earlier you adopt OKRs, the easier it will be.

What else? Were there any other important insights you noticed in the Google Ventures OKR transcript?

Do you manage a company or teams (either as a CEO, a senior executive, a middle manager or even a front-line manager)? Do you set and track objectives? Does aligning employee performance to business goals matter, and are you responsible for driving results? If so, please check out a live demo of Atiim OKR & Goals Management Software and we’d love to hear what you think about it. Thank you!


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