Measure What Matters by John Doerr (2018) is a timely book about setting targets and goals using an approach called Objectives and Key Results – OKRs. Author John Doerr, currently chair of Kleiner Perkins, a Silicon Valley based private equity firm, worked with Andy Grove at Intel in the 1980’s. Grove, while not the founder of OKR’s, became the world’s leading refiner and evangelist of OKRs. OKRs became the defacto operating system at Intel and then became embedded in dozens, if not hundreds, of organizations such as Google, The Gates Foundation and others.
The premise of OKR’s is simple: set an ambitious goal (the objective) and then set highly defined measurable results (key results) that will, when achieved, ensure you achieve your goal. It is a system that I am a proponent of and have been for some time – in fact OKRs play a feature role in my book Making Remarkable as the recommended means of establishing organizational and individual priorities and targets. (Although my book and Doerr’s book were in production at the same time, and therefore it is not referred to in my book. I am certain that Doerr would find my referencing of OKR’s in Making Remarkable awesome and would have brought me into his book…….right John?)
Measure What Matters is an engaging read on what could be a very dull topic for many. He uses great examples across business and non-profit, pulling in big names like Bono, Bill Gates, Larry Page and others.
I am in alignment with all Doerr prescribes, although I found many times that I wasn’t totally aligned with what he described as key results – often they seemed more like tasks or actions than results. He outlines the powers of OKR’s to get organizations and people aligned and to drive for optimal, if not impressive, results.
OKR’s work. They create a framework and an approach that enables a clear definition of where an organization is going, how it will measure when it gets there, who is part of the work and how the work is progressing. I have used this approach for years and swear by it. Believe me, it will deliver. But, you must have the discipline to use it and adhere to it. If you are going to half-ass it – it won’t deliver. In fact nothing will if you half-ass it. You need discipline and rigour in the setting and tracking of organizational performance. This may not sit well with some. That’s fine, they can go work somewhere else. But if you want to be remarkable, if you want to have impact, then you need the discipline to set goals, track performance and be able to discuss with people how to get the results you set out to.
What I also agree with, and also practice as a leader, is what Doerr calls CFR – Conversations, Feedback and Recognition. This is the use of regular conversations with staff on an ongoing basis to ensure setting of goals, assessment of performance against goals, and to discuss issues, obstacles, successes and recognition. I am a firm believer in this approach versus the standard annual review, with at best a mid-year check in. These suck, don’t work and don’t develop people.
I am a true believer that one of the greatest responsibilities of leadership and advancement within an organization is to be responsible for other people. Some view it as power. Some view it as a pain in the ass. I view it as one of, if not, the most important role of leader. Yet few people know intuitively how to lead and coach and grow another human being. Organizations promote people based on how well they perform their function, then as they grow, they do less of that and more coaching and developing people. Yet most people suck at it, resulting in decreased engagement and the adage that you don’t leave a job, you leave a boss. The whole approach to CFR and constant and regular engagement and development of your colleagues through a coaching model is my absolute definitive approach. It is the only way that works. If you want to learn more about it, and a great program to help you grow, check out the Leader’s Discipline from the Roy Group www.roygroup.net
The book is filled with great stories, examples, case studies, tools and sample questions to use in doing both OKR and CFR work.
Verdict: Highly recommended