Objectives and Key Results

I was intrigued enough by the title of a recent article (Every Worker Should Be C.E.O. of Something) to do a quick read-through. As soon as I saw it was an interview with a CEO I was suspicious it would just be self- and company-promoting, and it is a little but, but I found something of value on the second page I wanted to share:

John Doerr [the venture capitalist] sold me on this idea of O.K.R.’s, which stands for objectives and key results. The idea is that the whole company and every group has one objective and three measurable key results – if you achieve two of the three, you achieve your overall objective, and if you achieve all three, you’ve really killed it.

We put the whole company on that, so everyone knows their O.K.R.’s. And that is a good, simple organizing principle that keeps people focused on the three things that matter — not the 10.

Then I ask everybody to write down on Sunday night or Monday morning what are your three priorities for the week, and then on Friday see how you did against them. It’s the only way people can stay focused and not burn out. And if I look at your road map and you have 10 priorities for you and your team, you probably don’t know which of the three matter, and probably none of the 10 are right.

I can look at everyone’s piece of paper, and their road map shows every item you were going to do and your predicted results and actual results, and then the results are in red if you missed them, yellow if they’re close and green if you passed them. I think road maps are a great principle just for managing your life. It keeps everybody focused, and it lets me know what trains are on or off the tracks.

(Actually I won’t lie, I originally only intended to bookmark it with del.icio.us but they wouldn’t let me put all of the excerpt in the Notes field, so I figured I’d make it a blog post instead :))