The 5 Superpowers of OKR’s
“If you seek to achieve greatness, stretching for amazing is a great way to start.” John Doerr
Set a goal that requires you to rethink the way you do things.
Astro Teller, leader of Google X, illustrated the power of Moon-Shot-Goals when he said …
“If you want your car to get 50 miles per gallon, fine. You can retool your car a little bit. But if I tell you your car has to run 500 miles on a gallon of gas, you have to start over.” (WSJ)
Moon-Shot-Goals ignite creativity and innovation, not simply greater productivity and efficiency.
The gospel of OKR’s – Objectives and Key Results:
John Doerr has been preaching the gospel of OKR’s since the 80’s. He learned the system from Andy Grove (9/2/1936 – 3/21/2016), former CEO of IBM.
What and how:
Doerr explains, “The objective is WHAT I want to have accomplished. The key results are HOW I’m going to get it done. The objectives are typically longer lived. They’re bold and aspirational. The key results are aggressive, but always measurable, time-bound, and limited in number.” (HBR)
Timing and OKR’s:
Short-term goals impact daily behavior.
Long-term goals define success and establish direction.
The 5 superpowers of OKR’s:
The acronym FACTS explains the 5 superpowers of OKR’s.
- Focus. OKR’s explain what matters most. “Innovation means saying no to one thousand things.” Steve Jobs
- Alignment – common purpose and creative latitude. Micro-management is mismanagement.
- Commitment and accountability. Establish weakly check-ins.
- Tracking. Make everyone’s KR’s public and trackable. People want to know if they’re succeeding.
- Stretching. A pattern of 70% attainment indicates OKR’s are functioning effectively. 100% achievement means the KR’s were too low.
(The above list is adapted from, “How VC John Doerr Sets (and Achieves) Goals”)
Note: Some operational KR’s need to be achieved 100%.
What makes Moon-Shot-Goals a good thing? A bad thing?
What does a Moon-Shot-Goal culture look like?
Moon Shot goals are required and very real when they come from customers or the marketplace in general.
Early in my career, I worked at an aerospace company that designed and developed complicated control systems. In general, in took 18 months to design, develop, test and produce a new state-of-the art control.
Well, the customer called us and said–“We want you to produce this new control for us and we want it in finished, tested ready to go in 4 months–not 18 months.”
That moon shot goal was initially met with denial. “can’t be done. No way!” Once we got through the denial it forced us reinvent our process.
Also, when the competition is making major, major improvements, we can’t sit by and set a goal to make a 3% improvement. These days a 50% improvement may be required.
The challenge for leaders is making the case early on as to why a step-change improvement is needed.
This stands out for me, “The objective is WHAT I want to have accomplished. The key results are HOW I’m going to get it done. The objectives are typically longer lived. They’re bold and aspirational. The key results are aggressive, but always measurable, time-bound, and limited in number.” I work in the renewable’s space and have for 17 years now. I have been working on a concept for component spares support (substation components) for the last 18 months that no one else is really working on. I have a vision based on my experience, my background and my “moon shots” approach and I have support within and without. I’ve tried a few salvos with a number of customers in a few different formats and I am getting traction and in the end sales (since I sell parts and solutions) slowly for longer term efforts but more importantly immediately for “emergency” needs. What I find about the process is that no one and I mean no one out there has thought of what I am doing, most likely because of the scattered nature of the playing field, the diversity of the involved, the lack of general talent and background and the overworked nature of those involved in the small niche I’ve carved out. I just look at things from 30000 feet and hone in almost like a Google satellite view down to bits and pieces that are important. In fact I utilize Google satellite view in a lot of what I do and how I present things to customers. I am actually having fun at this, I just have to crank up my patience on everything as most all others (except in emergencies) move real slow The more I do and see and review the more I am able to carve out segments of approach and now marketing to explain and win over my customers..
From a team leader view this would take a massive commitment from the leader. The time to lay out and commit and hold themselves and their employees to this would be very time consuming. For teams working on projects maybe but day to day? Going to have to spend time thinking if this is a tool that I can use to manage people not projects.
I don’t agree with his definition of terms.
Doerr states, “The objective is WHAT I want to have accomplished. The key results are HOW I’m going to get it done.
The objective (or goal or key result) is WHAT you want to achieve.
The plan is HOW you are going to get it done.
So first, I was curious as to what OKRs are – new to me … And of course, now I know they are ‘Objectives and Key Results’ from John Doerr, I now have added a new topic / acronym and a new author’s material for Consideration – for understanding and subsequent use. As always, thanks Dan!!!