Measuring What Matters: The Secrets to Performance

In an ever-changing world, we are constantly looking for new approaches to navigate with agility.

You may have heard of the OKRs or Key Objectives and Results ? It's a goal setting framework, widely adopted by leading companies like Google, LinkedIn and Twitter. It was popularized by the book “ Measure What Matters by John Doerr, a must-read for anyone who wants to improve the performance of their organization.

Whether you are a business executive looking to align your organization, a manager eager to focus your efforts where they really matter, or just someone who is interested in organizational culture and at the performance, I hope this journey into the world of OKRs will be useful and rewarding for you.

Here we go ? Let's go ! 🙂

Context of the book

John Doerr is one of Silicon Valley's most successful investors.

He discovers the concept of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) during his time at Intel and was impressed with the clarity and focus they brought. When he started working with Google, he shared this method with founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and it has been a fundamental pillar of Google's management and growth strategy.

“Measure What Matters” is both a story and a how-to guide, explaining how OKRs can help organizations of all sizes achieve their goals.

What issues does this book address?

"Measure What Matters" addresses several common issues that organizations, teams and even individuals face.

Here are some of those issues:

1. Lack of clarity of objectives: Without a structure like OKRs, it's easy for goals to be vague, ill-defined, or simply forgotten.

2. Lack of alignment and cohesion within teams: Teams, especially in large organizations, often work in silos, with little understanding of what others are doing or how their work contributes to the overall goal.

3. Lack of ambition and fear of failure: Many organizations and individuals set secure goals to avoid failure. This can stifle innovation and growth.

4. Insufficient feedback and lack of recognition: Effective communication is essential to the success of any organization. However, giving and receiving constructive feedback is often overlooked.

We will see later how OKRs respond to these common issues. Indeed, they provide a clear and effective framework for defining, monitoring and achieving objectives, while promoting a culture of transparency, ambition and recognition.

Let's discover the OKRs

The essence of OKRs is simple:

Define clear objectives (Objectives) and measure progress towards these objectives through measurable key results (Key Results).

The concept consists of 2 main elements: the objectives (O) and the key results (KR).

  • Objectives (O) are qualitative statements that express what the organization wants to achieve in the long term. They should be ambitious, inspiring and engaging, to motivate people and teams to work together to achieve them.

For example, a goal could be:

“To become the market leader in our product category”

Or

“Increase customer satisfaction”

  • Key Results (KR) are quantitative measures indicating how the organization will know if it has achieved its objective. They must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART).

For example, key results for the above objectives could be:

“To reach a turnover of X million euros in our product category by the end of the year”

Or

“Reduce customer service response time from 24 to 12 hours”
and
“Increase the customer service satisfaction rate from 85 to 95 %”

The importance of OKRs lies in their ability to align the organization around common goals. They promote transparency and encourage a culture of accountability. They also allow each person and team to understand how their work contributes to the overall goals of the organization. Therefore, they create a sense of purpose and direction.

Additionally, by focusing on quantitative measures of success, OKRs encourage culture of measurement and continuous improvement. They help organizations identify where they are succeeding and where they can improve.

Practical exercise :

Think of a goal for your own work or organization.

How can you break it down into specific, measurable key results?

Transparency and alignment

Transparency and alignment are core tenets of OKRs and a critical part of their value to organizations.

Transparency

There transparency in the context of OKRs means that every member of the organization has access to the OKRs of everyone else, including those of teams and individuals. This means everyone can see what others are trying to accomplish, how they plan to accomplish it, and how their work aligns with the overall goals of the organization.

This transparency helps build a culture of trust, because it shows that the organization is opened and honest on its goals and progress.

Moreover, the transparency promotes collaboration between teams and individuals. By understanding each other's goals, members of the organization can see where their work intersects and can work together more effectively to achieve their common goals.

Alignment

I'alignment is closely related to transparency. In the context of OKRs, alignment means that all of an organization's objectives and key results are in harmony with each other. This means that the OKRs of each team and each individual directly support the OKRs of the organization as a whole.

Alignment ensures that all organizational efforts are directed towards the same global objectives. This helps prevent teams or individuals from working in directions that do not support the organization's goals. Alignment also helps to ensure that the organization's resources are used in a way efficient and strategic.

For example :

Who ?Objective Key Results
OrganizationBecome the market leader in our product category
Sales teamIncrease sales of X%
Product Development TeamLaunch X new products on the market

These OKRs are aligned because they all support the same overall goal.

By combining transparency and alignment, OKRs help create an organization where every member understands how their work contributes to the overall goal and where all teams are working together to achieve those goals.

Practical exercise :

  • How can you improve transparency and alignment in your organization?
  • What tools or systems could you put in place?

The culture of ambition and failure

The culture of ambition and failure is a major theme that arises from the use of OKRs in an organization.

It's a culture that not only encourages aiming high, but also recognizing that failure is a natural and necessary part of innovation and growth.

Culture of ambition

I'ambition is encouraged by the boldness of the goals in the OKRs.

Indeed, we can define ambition as:

A burning desire to achieve a goal or objective, often associated with success, achievement or recognition.

It is a driving force that drives individuals or organizations to strive forachieve something big or significant, often beyond what is immediately attainable or easy.

Ambition often involves the desire to take risks, to work hard and overcome obstacles to achieve these goals. Goals should therefore not simply be a linear projection of what has been done before, but a aspiration to surpass oneself.

For example, if a sales team increased sales by 5% last year, a goal might be to increase sales by 15% this year.

It's ambitious, and it forces the team to think creative and innovative on how she could achieve this goal.

Note: Be careful not to turn ambition into a promise or an obligation!

culture of failure

However, with ambition inevitably comes the risk of failure. And that's where the culture of failure join the game.

In many organizations, failure is seen as something to be avoided at all costs. This can lead to risk aversion and a lack of innovation.

But with OKRs, failure isn't just accepted, it's valued like a learning opportunity.

If a team or individual fails to achieve their OKR, it doesn't mean they did a bad job.

On the contrary, it means that they aimed high and took risks, which is essential for growth and innovation.

Failure to reach an OKR should lead to a discussion what went wrong, what could be done differently, and what lessons can be learned from the experience.

In summary, OKRs foster a culture where ambition is valued and where failure is seen not as an end in itself, but as a step on the road to success. This culture of ambition and failure is essential for organizations looking to innovate, grow and thrive in an ever-changing business environment.

Practical exercise :

Think about a goal you recently achieved.

  • Was he ambitious enough?
  • What could you have learned if you had aimed higher?

Conversations, Feedbacks and Acknowledgments (CFR)

The principle of Conversations, Feedbacks and Acknowledgments (CFR) is another important aspect of the OKR system.

This principle recognizes that achieving goals is not just a matter of setting goals and monitoring progress, but also depends on continuous communication, of feedback and some acknowledgement within the organization.

Conversations

Conversations are essential to ensure common alignment and understanding of OKRs across the organization.

They help to explain Why certain objectives have been chosen, how they relate to the overall goals of the organization, and what will be the results keys that will indicate that these objectives have been achieved.

Conversations around OKRs should be bidirectional, which means team members have the opportunity to ask questions, provide feedback, and contribute to setting OKRs.

Feedback

Feedback is an essential means of track progress towards the OKRs and to adapt as they go.

Managers, colleagues, customers, or other stakeholders can provide feedback that helps understand what is working well and what could be improved.

In the context of OKRs, feedback should be regular and constructive, with an emphasis on learning and continuous improvement rather than criticism.

Recognitions

Finally, recognition is an essential element in maintaining commitment and the motivation towards the OKRs.

That means celebrate success, whether large or small, and recognize the efforts deployed to achieve the objectives. Recognition can take many forms, ranging from a simple thank you to more formal rewards.

It reinforces positive behaviors and shows that efforts to achieve OKRs are appreciated.

In summary, CFRs are an essential complement to OKRs, as they focus on human interactions and the communication which are necessary to achieve the objectives.

Without CFRs, OKRs risk becoming just a to-do list to check off, rather than a tool to improve performance and alignment within the organization.

Practical exercise :

Schedule a conversation with a colleague.
Be prepared to give constructive feedback and acknowledge their work.

Mistakes to avoid

When implementing the OKR system, there are several common mistakes that should be avoided to maximize its effectiveness.

Here are some of the most common pitfalls:

1. Fixing OKRs that are too easy

The purpose of OKRs is toencourage the achievement of exceptional performance, so they must be bold and ambitious.

If all OKRs are hit at 100%, it probably means they weren't hard enough.

Imagine an e-commerce company whose goal is to increase traffic to its website.

An overly easy goal might be to increase traffic by 5 % over a quarter.

A more ambitious and appropriate goal might be to increase traffic by 25 %.

2. Fix too many OKRs

It is important to focus on the most important goals. If an organization or individual sets too many OKRs, it will scatter too much attention and resources to be effective.

Doerr generally suggests having no more than 3 to 5 OKRs at a time.

If the same e-commerce site sets objectives:

  • to increase traffic to the site,
  • increase the conversion rate,
  • reduce the bounce rate,
  • improve page load time,
  • increase the average basket,
  • And so on…

    it could dilute effort and concentration.

3. Forgetting to regularly check progress

OKRs are not meant to be set and then forgotten until the end of the period. Instead, they should be reviewed and discussed regularly to ensure everyone is on track and to allow for adjustments if necessary.

A software development team might set a goal to develop a new feature within three months.

However, if she doesn't regularly check in on progress, she might not realize she's behind schedule until it's too late to correct things.

4. Not linking OKRs to performance reviews

OKRs are not intended to be used for individual performance evaluation, as this may deter people from setting ambitious goals.

OKRs are intended for to stimulate innovation and audacity, not to punish those who fail to achieve their ambitious goals.

If a sales rep has an OKR to increase sales by 50 % and only achieves an increase of 30 %, they have not achieved their OKR.

However, a 30 TP3T increase in sales is still a significant achievement and should be recognized as such in its performance review.

5. Lacking transparency

OKRs must be visible to all within the organization.

It helps create a sense ofalignment and shared responsibility, and allows everyone to understand how their work contributes to the overall goals.

A software company might set an enterprise-level OKR to increase the number of active users of their product.

However, if this OKR is not communicated to the entire team, different departments could be working on projects that do not directly contribute to this goal, creating inconsistent and inefficient efforts.

The implementation of OKRs requires reflection, discipline and of commitment.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you'll be able to harness the full potential of this powerful goal-setting system.

Finally, it is important to remember that, like any methodology or management tool, OKRs are not a silver bullet. They are a powerful tool, but they require commitment, effort, and a willingness to experiment and learn to be truly effective.

Some advice to optimize your OKRs

Here are some tips for getting the best results when using OKRs:

1. Make OKRs specific and measurable

Specificity

Vague or general goals can seem appealing because they seem flexible and easy to achieve. However, they often lack clarity on what actually needs to be accomplished.

Therefore, it is essential to make the objectives and key results as specific as possible.

For example, instead of a goal like "Improve customer service," a more specific goal might be "Reduce customer service response time to less than 24 hours."

Measurability

In addition to being specific, Key Results must be measurable. That is, they should include quantifiable criteria which clearly indicate whether thegoal has been achieved.

It can be a numerical value, a percentage, a rating scale, or any other criterion that can be objectively measured.

In the previous example, “customer service response time less than 24 hours” is a measurable Key Result.

By making OKRs specific and measurable, you can clarify what is expected, track progress objectively, and accurately assess whether goals have been met.

This allows the entire organization to understand expectations, to focus on the most important tasks and to celebrate success when the goals are achieved.

2. Use OKRs at different levels of the organization

This element is crucial to ensure total alignment within the company.

It is about deploying OKRs at three main levels: the company, the team and the individual.

Company level

At the enterprise level, OKRs reflect the strategy and priorities of the whole organization. Management usually establishes OKRs which then serve as a guide for the whole company.

For example, a business OKR might be “Increase market share by 15 %”.

Team level

At the team level, we derive the OKRs from the company's OKRs, and we specify them according to the roles and responsibilities of each team. They must directly contribute to the achievement of the company's OKRs.

For example, the marketing team might have an OKR tied to increasing brand visibility to support the company's OKR of increasing market share.

Individual level

At the individual level, OKRs are specific to the roles and responsibilities of each team member. Like Team OKRs, they must directly support Company and Team OKRs.

For example, a digital marketer might have an OKR tied to increased website traffic.

The key lies in the alignment of all these levels. This means that OKRs at all levels contribute to the achievement of higher level OKRs. This ensures everyone is working in the same direction, promotes collaboration and consistency, and avoids conflicting or duplicative efforts.

It is important to note that although individual OKRs support team and company OKRs, they should also reflect the aspirations and development plans of the individual.

This ensures a balance between company goals and personal development, which can increase employee engagement and motivation.

3. Review OKRs regularly

OKRs should not remain static or unchanged for their entire duration. Rather, they should be reviewed and adjusted regularly to reflect progress made, challenges encountered, and changes in the environment or business priorities.

Periodic review

It is recommended that OKRs be reviewed at least quarterly. This allows progress to be tracked, issues or challenges to be discussed, and adjustments to be made to stay on track.

For example, if a Key Result is regularly exceeded, it could be adjusted to be more ambitious.

Likewise, if you consistently miss a Key Result, you might need to revise it to make it more realistic.

Follow-up meetings

In addition to the quarterly review, it may be useful to organize more frequent follow-up meetings.

For example monthly or even weekly, depending on the nature of the OKRs and the dynamics of the business.

These meetings can help maintain focus on OKRs, to solve problems quickly, and to celebrate the progress made.

Adjustments

Finally, don't be afraid to adjust OKRs based on feedback and changes in the business environment.

For example, if a new competitor appears in the market, it may be necessary to adjust the OKRs to deal with it.

Or, if a Key Result turns out to be no longer relevant, it can be replaced with a more appropriate one.

In short, the regular review of OKRs promotes a process ofcontinuous learning, allows you to adjust heading for changing conditions, and helps maintain commitment to OKRs.

4. Engage the whole team in the OKR process

Ensuring that each member of the team understands, contributes and adheres to the OKR process allows for better cohesion and alignment of the whole team towards the defined objectives.

Understanding OKRs

Above all, each team member must understand what OKRs are and how they work. Initial training may be required, followed by regular refresher and refresher sessions.

This includes an understanding of why OKRs are important, how they are structured, and how to use them to guide their daily work.

Participation in the definition of OKRs

It is also important that team members participate in the definition of OKRs. This does not mean that each person must necessarily contribute to each OKR, but rather that each has the opportunity to give feedback and contribute to the definition of OKRs that affect its work.

This can increase engagement and buy-in, as people are more likely to be invested in achieving the goals they helped set.

Track OKRs

Each team member should also actively track OKRs. This may include regular meetings to discuss progress, challenges and successes.

This helps keep focus on OKRs and ensure that all are aware of the progress objectives.

Celebrating Success

Finally, the whole team should celebrate successes together. This can take many forms, from congratulations at team meetings to more formal celebrations for achieving big OKRs.

This helps build a sense of belonging and accomplishment, and encourage continued commitment to OKRs.

Thus, the commitment of the whole team is crucial for the success of the OKRs. This requires open communication, proper training and support, and a culture that values everyone's contribution and celebrates successes.

5. Be patient

Like any new methodology or process change, adopting OKRs can take time and encounter obstacles. Patience is therefore essential throughout this journey.

Accept learning time

Implementing OKRs isn't just about setting goals and metrics. It is also a change in how teams define, measure and work towards their goals.

This means there will be a learning curve and that the first OKR cycles might not be perfect.

It is important to be patient during this learning phase and to use these experiences to refine the process.

Feeding the OKR Culture

The adoption of OKRs is not only a matter of process, but also a cultural issue.

This may involve changing attitudes towards failure, fostering a culture of transparency and alignment, and encouraging communication and feedback.

These cultural changes take time and require patience and support from management.

Wait for results

Finally, it is important to note that the results of adopting OKRs may not be immediate. Achieving goals through OKR takes time; the impact may be visible after several cycles.

stay patient and focus on the process rather than on short-term results is therefore essential

In summary, patience is a crucial virtue when adopting OKRs. This includes accepting the learning time, the nourishment of the OKR culture, and the expectation of results. With time and patience, OKRs can become an integral part of how your team or organization achieves its goals and achieves its vision.

6. Use OKR tracking software or tool

With the right tool, teams can easily define, track and review their OKRs.

Ease of management

OKR tracking software or tool can make managing OKRs much easier. Indeed, it centralizes information on OKRs, tracks their progress and allows live adjustments. This makes the management process more fluid and more efficient.

Visibility

An OKR tracking tool provides visibility clear and transparent on organization-wide OKRs. Each team member can see the OKRs of the organization, teams and individuals, as well as their progress. This promotes transparency and alignment within the organization.

Real-time tracking and updating

With a tracking tool, teams can track and update their OKRs in real time. So they can quickly identify and fix problems, adjust, and celebrate successes as they happen.

Reports and Analytics

Many OKR tracking tools also offer reporting and analysis features. This makes it easier to analyze performance, understand trends and make informed decisions data driven.

To conclude, the use of software or an OKR tracking tool can greatly facilitate their implementation. It offers clear visibility, tracking and real-time, as well as reporting and analysis features. However, it is important to choose a tool that suits your needs and your corporate culture.

Conclusion

Thus, OKRs are a valuable tool for any organization looking to optimize its performance and to achieve your ambitions. OKRs provide a dynamic and adaptive framework for setting, tracking and achieving ambitious goals. Thoughtful implementation, supported by the right tools, can dramatically transform the way an organization or individual works. All this for greater success and satisfaction.

Remember, OKRs must be ambitious and measurable. They should promote transparency and alignment within the organization. OKRs are dynamic, require regular review and adapt to change. Finally, Conversations, Feedbacks and Acknowledgments (CFR) are essential components for the success of OKRs.

To go further, I recommend that you explore the many resources available online. I am thinking in particular of those of Laurent Morrisseau and Anne Gabrillagues. The process for implementing OKRs is a travel and every organization is unique. Be patient, experiment and adapt the system to your specific needs.

Bon voyage towards achieving your most ambitious goals!

Share

Subscribe !

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Olivier MY

Olivier MY

Trained as an engineer and passionate about people, I quickly turned to the world of Agile coaching and Professional coaching. Today, I support individuals, teams and organizations towards creating value adapted to the constraints and challenges of today's world. I am committed to contributing to the professionalization of the profession, in particular through detailed feedback and inspirations highlighting the importance of an open, curious and respectful posture.

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Articles

Réconciliation et Collaboration : Comment Faciliter une Équipe en Conflit

Il est courant pour les équipes dans les organisations dynamiques d’éprouver des tensions, surtout lorsque les responsabilités et les objectifs ne sont pas clairement définis. ...
READ MORE

L’Art de transformer les Désaccords en Opportunité

Que vous soyez cadre d’entreprise, freelance ou tout simplement une personne qui souhaite améliorer ses relations interpersonnelles, savoir gérer les désaccords est essentiel. Pourquoi ? ...
READ MORE

Parler de confiance en équipe

La confiance au sein d’une équipe n’est pas simplement un atout supplémentaire, c’est le fondement même d’une collaboration réussie. Elle impacte chaque aspect, de la ...
READ MORE

Confiance et Vulnérabilité : au Coeur d’une Équipe Forte et Épanouie

Vous êtes-vous déjà demandé ce qui sépare une équipe qui excelle d’une autre qui stagne ? Ou pourquoi certaines organisations ont des employés passionnés et ...
READ MORE

Évaluer le niveau de confiance dans une équipe

La confiance est plus qu’un simple mot dans le monde professionnel. Elle est le socle sur lequel repose chaque interaction, chaque décision et chaque innovation. ...
READ MORE

« Circle of Trust » : Créer un environnement de confiance

La confiance est aujourd’hui, plus que jamais, au cœur de la performance d’une équipe. En effet, sans elle, même les talents les plus brillants peinent ...
READ MORE

Let's get in touch!