Last week I attended an event where John Doerr, the legendary venture capitalist from Kleiner Perkins, discussed his new book Measure What Matters. John explained a simple management tool called Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), which he credits for the success of Google and many of the transformative companies he funded. OKRs ask that you set a small number of challenging Objectives (“What”), and that for each one you list Key Results that will be evidence that you have met the objective (“How”). As an alumnus of Intel, the birthplace of OKRs, I know the practice well.
OKRs have a lot in common with some tools used in the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®). Under both systems, objectives are set quarterly to keep the organization focused, they are visible to everyone so there is transparency and accountability, and they are kept to no more than five because less is more. But that is pretty much where OKRs end. When it comes to guidance for the nuts and bolts of running the business, such as defining what makes for a good marketing strategy, or how to get everyone in the organization aligned and rowing in the same direction, OKRs remain mum.
Why? In every success case John presented, OKRs were paired up with an exceptionally talented – and exceptionally expensive – operator. At Google, Eric Schmidt used OKRs to take the company’s value from $0 to $460 billion in about a decade. Eric’s share: $13.2 billion. Sheryl Sandberg took the OKR tool from Google to Facebook, and her performance has earned her $1.6 billion. If you can afford to bring an Eric or a Sheryl into your organization, OKRs are probably all you need.
For the rest of us, fortunately there is EOS®. By strengthening the six key components of the business – Vision, People, Data, Issues, Process and Traction –, EOS® provides you the shorthand to best management practices and, most importantly, how to apply them. So you can take your organization to the next level with a system that includes the benefits of OKRs, but also gives you a roadmap for how to best implement every building block of your business.