How to Harness Time and Energy, the Google Playbook, Part 1, From “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr

No company has more experience or has enjoyed greater success with the OKR methodology than Google. Almost two decades after John Doerr introduced the protocol to Larry Page and Sergey Brin, OKRs are still in use at Google. Larry Page, CEO of parent Alphabet, continues to develop personal OKRs each quarter.

In his book “Measure What Matters”, the author, John Doerr gives us a peek at the Google OKR playbook. Want to gain insights as to how you can use OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) like Google for superior results at your company? Read on.

Key Insights into Google’s Playbook – Setting Objectives

The first key to a Google OKR execution is the goal-setting process. At Google they use a two-tier system; committed versus aspirational. Since Objectives determine how time and resources are allocated, they are carefully considered, by management, teams, and individuals. Senior leadership starts the planning process well in advance of the quarter, four–six weeks.

Google Goal Setting Rules

  • Aggressive, not of the incremental variety
  • Tangible and unambiguous
  • Achievement must provide meaningful value

Google Goal Setting Traps (To be Avoided)

  • Mundane OKRs calling for incremental improvement
  • Not sufficiently aggressive aspirational OKRs
  • Teams and individuals sandbagging
  • Low-Value objectives

Cascading OKRs to Teams and Individuals

Two weeks before the start of the quarter the corporate-wide Objectives are communicated to the entire company. Within two weeks teams are expected to create their OKRs, always in support of the corporate-wide objectives. One week later, one week after the start of the quarter, individuals are expected to have created their OKR Objectives. Often at Google, Objectives will require cross-functional collaboration. OKRs are designed to facilitate and encourage this teamwork and engagement.

So, this is the all-important goal-setting phase in the Google OKR model. Want to know the next key element of Google’s Playbook. Look for Part 2, How to Write Outstanding Key Results.

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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