Niven and Lamorte, Objectives and Key Results: Driving Focus, Alignment, and Engagement with OKRs (Book Review)

I can't remember how I got interested in OKRs: Maybe from reading blogs from the west coast, or perhaps from conversations with my colleague Dan. Anyhow, however I first learned about OKRs, Dan and I had a lot of good conversations. It turned out that there was some interest from the C-Suite. A number of us read Christina Wodtke's book Radical Focus (my review). Her book focuses on a small startup; my company is still a startup (in my view) but has about 400 employees, a complicated business model, and a lot of functional areas that require coordination. Thus, we realized that this was going to be a big project, and we would need a coach. I called Christina, and she recommended Ben Lamorte. So, full disclosure: Ben was our OKR coach, and I can't imagine how we would have gotten the process launched without him. (The book has some sensible advice on whether you should engage outside help: see pp. 156-159.)

So what are OKRs? OKR stands for "Objectives and Key results." The Objective should be inspiring, directional, and represent a critical goal for a period of time, typically a quarter. A Key Result is usually (and should be) a quantifiable representation of how close you are to "done," but with a crucial twist: Accomplishing 100% of your KR should be a stretch - something that would mean you've truly blown it out of the park. More than that: You've won the world series. Getting to 30% of your OKR should be routine. Getting to 50% is great. Getting to 70% is awesome. And 100...

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