A collection of OKR stories from the leaders of successful organisations of all sizes. Google’s OKR guidelines (included as an appendix) are fantastic. (Disclaimer: I was already familiar with OKRs from working in companies that used them.) I picked up a few things:
- Being explicit about committed vs aspirational OKRs. Not something I’ve done in the past, probably would have been useful. Helped me “get” the idea/purpose of stretch goals better.
- CFRs for perf. management. Don’t think I’ll use as is, but good to have another data point/alternative to traditional reviews.
- Was surprised at how many of the sample OKRs where “launch X by date”. I think I’ve biased too heavily in the past to needing better (if somewhat artificial) measurable around those kinds of things.
What the book was missing:
- Stories from line managers and/or ICs. Senior managers (myself included) tend to be full of shit when it comes to talking about the inspirational qualities of management techniques.
- Would have liked more discussion on cultural variation in response to techniques. E.g. the following technique would have been a disaster in any of the (non-sales) teams I’ve lead:
The company incentivized the reps with a trip for two to Tahiti for all who reached the mark. Then Jim Lally added an ingenious stipulation: If a single individual failed to make the quota, the straggler’s entire district office would lose out on the trip. Early on, the numbers badly trailed the target, until the task force began to think about relaxing the design win criterion. But that summer, full-color Tahiti brochures mysteriously found their way into every salesperson’s home mailbox. By the third quarter, peer pressure on the laggards was enormous.
I think not just differences between functional disciplines, but also nationality. The way the leaders in the book talk about OKRs feels distinctly American?
- More failure stories and discussion of limitations. There are a few that are touched on, but would have liked some dedicated time spent on either when OKRs are not appropriate, or stories of them failing. (Kind of how “Images of Organization” did for each lens it discussed.)