Read: July 2023

Inspiration: Recommended by a coworker; often cited in conversations of business/team management


Written with the help of ChatGPT, below is a brief summary to understand what is covered in the book.

“Measure What Matters”, published in 2017 by author and venture capitalist John Doerr, is a powerful management book that introduces the concept of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) as a framework for setting and achieving goals in organizations. Doerr draws on his experience as an influential venture capitalist and advisor to Silicon Valley giants like Google and Intel to present OKRs as a dynamic tool for driving growth and innovation. The book offers real-life examples of successful companies implementing OKRs, demonstrating how this goal-setting system fosters transparency, alignment, and accountability within teams. Doerr also emphasizes the importance of fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptation to thrive in today’s fast-paced business environment. “Measure What Matters” is a practical and inspiring guide that empowers leaders to implement a results-driven approach and propel their organizations toward greater success.

Unedited Notes

Direct from my original book log, below are my unedited notes (abbreviations and misspellings included) to show how I take notes as I read.

John Doerr venture capitalist, invested 11.8mm in Google in 1999 for 12% of the company, Google was 18th search engine to market, Doerr worked at Kleiner Perkins, formerly at Intel in 70s under Andy Grove CEO, early 80s also spent time at Sun Microsystems (where met Eric Schmidt who became Google CEO), OKRs are Andy Grove concept—Objectives and Key Results, collaborative goal setting protocol for companies/teams/individuals, need to know what is to be achieved and then need benchmarks and monitoring, effective KRs are time bound and aggressive yet realistic, key is to be measurable and verifiable (no grey area), KRs evolve as work progresses, Larry and Sergey thoroughly embrace OKR system—challenging yet achievable and measurable goals to guide and inspire work, use metrics, still at Google today, centers a team, four OKR superpowers: focus, align, track, and stretch, at Intel when joined 1975–Gordon Moore CEO and Grove EVP but Grove was real taskmaster/communicator and all knew it, Moore was more a thinker, Noyce was third leader at Intel’s 1968 founding, OKR system Grove brough to Intel inspired by Peter Drucker, Drucker pioneered mgmt thinking/theory—promote concepts of corporation built on trust and respect not just profit as Ford and Taylor did, short and long term planning informed by data and regular conversation was Drucker concept, harmonize teams and individuals under common goal(s), Drucker: “mgmt by objectives and self control” 1954 book (MBOs—mgmt by objectives), MBOs stalled eventually given central planning and slow nature to trickle down and too tied to salary/bonuses, Grove turn to a focus on output in all roles—what you do with knowledge, for OKRs less is more, build from bottom up, be patient, not tie to pay, be flexible, important to pair quantity key results with quality key results—Wells Fargo failed here when prioritize # of accounts with no checks on fake accounts which killed their reputation ultimately, completion of all key results must result in completion of objective (essential to OKR formula), need to be selective with objectives—this is the art of management, pick the most important ones to focus, organization alignment derived from proper OKR construction, traditional top down OKRs can be a challenge—traditionally CEO has objective and key results and these key results become level below objectives for managers and so on (cascading), but these can be too layered and slow/rigid, not terrible to consider but must be warh of overall objective generating instrinsic motivation for all employees, critical element is for OKRs for all teams to be shared company-wide and publicize goals and progress—this enables people to see if doing redundant work, adjust own OKRs as needed, etc, the transparency is key to aligning organization from highest levels on down, OKRs owned by one person but goals are publicly set and collaborative process, public goal setting also helps ensure alignment with North Star, “in god we trust, all others must bring data”, need a consolidated dashboard for all to see and track OKRs in real time, cannot be just in a word doc and checked annually, real time progress updates motivate and keep accountable, mosquito is most deadly species in the world—kills 700k+ annually vs humans only killed 400-500k which is why malaria fight is important, Google driven by a culture of “stretch goals” and moonshots, strive to 10x not increase by 10%, “uncomfortably excited” is target for goals, this is how scaled Chrome in 2009-10 past 100mm users from zero, look to reinvent to 10x not simple marginal improvements, Sundar Pichai led Chrome development and growth as Product Head, YouTube a good example of OKRs and figuring out how to measure the right thing—used to be all about view count until Sept 2011 when turn to watch time, diff motives than Google—want people engaged as long as possible, later brought ads in mid-video to monetize, YouTube’s recommendation for watch next was critical addition to this watch time goals, Susan Wojcicki was employee 16 at Google, rented garage to Sergey and Larry, was critical to Adwords and Adsense and led YouTube beginning 2014, Susan was main advocate for YouTube acquisition for $1bn, set OKR in 2012 for 1bn watch hours by 2016, employee reviews/feedback should be continuous not just annual, variety of conversations/channels, should go both ways, disaggregate comp from reviews to be most impactful, not unrelated for comp but keep distance, comp reviews backward looking, feedback must look forward on goals as well and what need to achieve goals (unrelated to comp), pairing OKRs with CFRs is critical (Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition)—builds culture, culture guides what people should do, culture trumps strategy, OKRs and CFRs transform culture, need collaborative process to have the right OKRs to motivate or else will not get the buy in needed, need alignment to work and build culture, Senagalese proverb “if you want to cut a man’s hair, it is better if he is in the room”—used to describe US/outsiders trying to “help” Africa w/o local input (messiah complex), if all OKRs are green/achieved then set too low of goals, particularly should fail on some of aspirational OKRs (with explanation), should achieve committed OKRs (challenging but more realistic than aspirational), a team’s whole OKRs list should exceed resources available by a margin (otherwise not really aspirational element), CFRs help drive culture and OKRs forward—praise and support and recognize not just big accomplishments, assign KRs to individuals, buy in from top is key, real time progress essential, don’t abandon stretch OKRs if not achieved—assess and keep pushing so long as aligned/relevant

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