How to Write Outstanding Key Results, the Google Playbook, Part 2, From “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr

John Doerr introduced OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to Google back in 1999. In a ninety-minute presentation, he explained OKRs as:

“A management methodology that helps to ensure that the company focuses efforts on the same important issues throughout the organization.”

He elaborated, provided definitions and examples of Objectives, and Key Results, and eventually secured the commitment of Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Since that start nearly twenty-years ago it could be argued Google has done more to forward the OKR movement than any other company.

In his recent book “Measure What Matters”, Doerr gives us a peek at the Google OKR playbook. Want to gain further insights as to how you can use OKRs like Google for superior results at your company? Read on.

Key Insights into Google’s Playbook – Getting the Key Results Right

Key Results are the “How” to the Objectives “What”. For superior results, you must get them both right in the planning phase. In Part 1 we discussed the importance of setting good Objectives. Just as important is the architecture of Key Results.

Achievement of the three – five Key Results assigned to an Objective must indicate achievement of the Objective.

Google’s Rules of Key Results

  • Must be measurable
  • Must address the outcome/achievement of the Objective
  • No list of activities
  • Think metrics or KPI’s, that will definitively tell you if you achieved your Objective
  • Use real dates for percent achievement during weekly Check-Ins
  • Must be succinct and accurate

The critical nature of establishing good Key Results is in the ability to track and measure performance. At quarter’s end, you must be able to objectively assign a grade to the KR.

Good Key Results will allow you to track performance towards the Objective throughout the quarter. One simple method is to assume each week should result in 10% of the KR being achieved. With twelve weeks in a quarter, this gives some room for cushion. KRs that are not on track are at risk, and course corrections need to be implemented.

Hopefully, this discussion of Google’s use of Key Results was helpful. For more from Google’s Playbook see part three of our series.

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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