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Book Summary – Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono And The Gates Foundation Rock The World With OKRs

Measure What Matters - Book summary

Great ideas are useless if you can’t execute them. Objectives and key results (OKRs) help to create clarity, focus, accountability, alignment and momentum to deliver real results. In this book summary of Measure What Matters by John Doerr, we’ll outline how OKRs deliver results and the ingredients needed for successful OKR application.

Measuring What Matters: What are OKRs?

OKRs stand for Objectives and Key Results. They provide a structured way for teams and individuals to set and achieve their goals. In a nutshell:

  • An objective is what you’re trying to achieve. A sound objective should be meaningful and inspiring. It typically involves a timeframe of at least 1 year.
  • Key results (KRs) are how you’ll achieve the objective. They provide a yardstick to measure and track your progress. Good KRs are specific, measurable, challenging and time-bound.  They help you to know within each month or quarter if you’re ontrack toward your objective. If your OKRs are well-defined, you’d have achieved your objective when you’ve achieved all your KRs.

Measure What Matters summary_Defining OKRsOKRs can be applied in any organization from startups to non-profit organizations and established corporations. However, since there are no fixed steps or rules for OKRs, this is not a how-to book. Doerr uses various examples and interviews with leaders to explain the value and potential of OKRs so you can use that as a starting point to tailor OKRs for your organization.

How OKRs Translate Ideas to Sound Execution

Here’s a quick overview of the 4 key success factors that allow OKRs to translate ideas into results. For specific tips and examples for each of these components, do get a copy of our full 12-page summary for more details.

Measure What Matters summary_4 OKR superpowers

1. Focus and Commitment to Core Priorities

OKRs force leaders to decide on and commit to what matters most. If you want to fill a jar with rocks, pebbles and sand, the best way is to start with the rocks, followed by the pebbles and sand, so the latter can fill in the empty spaces between the rocks. If you start with the sand and pebbles, you’ll have no space left for the rocks. Likewise, to maximize results, you must focus on your top priorities first. In our  full summary we’ll take a closer look at leaders’ responsibilities, and what to look out for when setting your OKRs in yearly and quarterly cycles.

2. Alignment and Connection for Teamwork

Alignment means that everyone’s efforts are directed toward the same vision and objectives. By making everyone’s goals transparent—from the CEO to the front-line staff—OKRs help people to understand their inter-dependencies and see how their work serves a wider purpose, to promote teamwork, work satisfaction and alignment. In our complete 12-page summary, we share specific examples of how OKRs are cascaded and connected in an organization and what to look out for.

3. Tracking for Accountability

OKRs are dynamic tools, not static numbers. By tracking and reviewing OKRs regularly, people know exactly where they stand, what areas must be addressed, and are held accountable for results. In our complete summary, we explain the 3 phases for OKR-tracking and tips for each phase.

4. Stretching for Breakthroughs

Innovation is essential for organizational success. This in turn requires that people stretch beyond existing limits and solutions. OKRs deliver all the factors above—focus and commitment, transparency and alignment, tracking and adjustment—so people can stretch to deliver breakthrough innovations. We share more perspectives and examples on setting stretch goals in our full book summary.

Applying OKRs

OKRs are powerful, but they’re not a magic bullet. To deliver results, OKRs must work hand-in-hand with great leadership and a strong culture.  In our complete 12-page summary we’ll explain more about the symbiotic relationship between OKRs and (i) continuous performance management (using “CFRs” or conversations, feedback and recognition) as well as (ii) organizational culture.

Getting the Most from Measure What Matters

In this article, we’ve briefly outlined some of the key insights and strategies you can use to achieve desired change. For more examples, details, and actionable tips to apply these strategies, do get our complete book summary bundle which includes an infographic, 12-page text summary, and a 26-minute audio summary.

Measure What Matters summary - book summary bundle

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for OKRs. It’s up to the leaders of an organization to figure out the right goals and approach for their teams. Besides the highlights in our summary, the book includes many other examples and interviews with leaders to give you a range of perspectives on the potential challenges and results from OKRs. You can purchase the book here for the full details, or check out more resources/details at

Looking for more insights on how to implement OKRs? Check out the Radical Focus summary, which presents a detailed framework on how to set and implement OKRs!

About the Author of Measure What Matters

Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono And The Gates Foundation Rock The World With OKRs is written by John Doerr— an American investor and venture at Kleiner Perkins in Menlo Park, California. He has backed many notable businesses, including Google, Amazon and Intuit. As of July 2017, Forbes ranked Doerr as the 105th richest person in the United States and the 303rd richest person in the world, with a net worth of US$ 7.5 billion as of February 2018.

Measure What Matters Quotes

“Ideas are easy. Execution is everything.”

“The most important things need to get done first or they won’t get done at all.”

“To inspire true commitment, leaders must practice what they teach.”

“Alignment is about helping people understand what you want them to do.”

“People can’t connect with what they cannot see; networks cannot blossom in silos.”

“Conservative goal setting stymies innovation. And innovation is like oxygen: You cannot win without it.”

Click here to download the Measure What Matters summary & infographic

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