How OKRs Empowered the Google Chrome Story From “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr

“If you set a crazy, ambitious goal and miss it, you will still achieve something remarkable.” Larry Page, co-founder of Google, from John Doerr’s book, Measure What Matters.

OKRs, Objectives and Key Results enable companies to set and achieve the remarkable. What makes the OKR methodology so conducive to accomplishing aspirational goals? Read on to learn how four key components of the process helped Google’s Sundar Pichai outperform the competition by a magnitude of 500%.

BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals)

In “Good to Great” Jim Collins introduces us to Big Hairy Audacious Goals. He uses NASA’s moon mission as an example of the type of goal that captures the imagination, that creates excitement, enthusiasm, and team spirit. In 2008, then VP of Product Development, Sundar Pichai, and his team set the following OKR Objective, “to develop the next generation client platform for web applications”. The main Key Result, “Chrome reaches 20 million seven-day active users.” Starting from a zero base that qualified as a BHAG!

Following the OKR cadence and chunking the Key Result quarter by quarter made the numbers feel less onerous. The frequency of check-ins provided opportunities for course corrections, and there were several. However, the team failed to achieve 2008’s KR.

Continuous tracking and monitoring kept the team on focus and provided feedback for a revised strategy in 2009 which featured Google’s first offline ad campaign. The KR was increased to “50 million seven-day active users.” And again, the team missed the number of users.

OKR Focus and Commitment, Connectivity and Alignment, Tracking and Stretch

For 2010 the stretch goal proposed by Sundar was 100 million active users. There were tweaks to the strategy throughout early 2010 and by year’s end 111 million users were achieved.

Three years of focus and commitment had come to fruition. It took an entire organization being connected and aligned. Consistent tracking and adapting enabled course corrections and revamped strategies. Chrome today, is by far, the most popular browser on the internet whether mobile or desktop. Even had Chrome not been such a phenomenal success, “When you aim for the stars and come up short, you still may reach the moon.

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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