Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr

Category: Productivity & Effectiveness

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Why: I need this to set goals for my reading project and business.
Goal: learn how to effectively set and pursue goals.

Action: Display Your Progress Publicly.

3 Key Concepts

  1. Objective: we need both What and Why for direction.
  2. Key Result: define How and When for desired outcomes.
  3. Good rather than perfect, OKRs are works in progress.


The Superpower of setting the right goal with OKRs: F.A.C.T.S.

  • Focus on what matters and Commit to priorities.
  • Align and connect for teamwork.
  • Track for accountability.
  • Stretch for amazing.

Here is how you take your goals to a different world. The world of usefulness.

First, set a committed Objective that you must accomplish. To get a sense of direction, we need both What and Why. Also, making it uncomfortable to avoid business as usual mindset.

Second, set Key results with specific How and time-bound When. KR must be measurable and focused on outputs/outcomes rather than inputs.
Check: completion of all KRs must result in the attainment of the objective!

Keep the desired end-state in mind during OKRs creation: focus on outcomes.

  • Inputs: action/things you can control.
  • Outputs: effects you need from inputs to succeed.
  • Outcomes: desired end itself, reflection on before and after.

Third, set an aspirational Objective that stretches your limit. It is far more effective to risk failure with audacious goals. The harder the goal, the higher the level of performance. You should focus on this Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) when committed OKRs are on track.

brown highland cattle on field of grass
Big Hairy Audacious Goal
Hairy Enough?

Check: if you ask your customers what they really want, does your aspirational Objective meet or exceed their request?

John Doerr

Learn more about why stretching a limit is necessary? Check out how to build a team: The Wisdom of Teams by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith.

When to launch OKRs?
Good rather than perfect. OKRs are works in progress, not commandments chiseled in stone. Don’t allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. You should launch it systematically with the timeline.

How many OKRs?
Less is more. Too many objectives blur the focus on what matters. It distracts you from chasing the next shiny thing. Limit the OKRs at the beginning and also get rid of irrelevant OKRs during the journey. Make room, don’t stuff.

If we try to focus on everything, we focus on nothing.

Andy Grove

Publicly display the progress. Motivation comes from “making progress in one’s work.” Action that leads to progress generates more motivation. Unseen progress is for most no progress.

Setting effective goals is difficult. I find it impossible to balance between realistic and aspirational goals. Too easy, then it is forgotten. Too difficult, then it is not taken seriously. Thus, it is an art. Let us all have fun with this never-ending work in progress of goal setting.


Goal check: I learned how to set goals with Focus.Align.Commit.Track.Stretch.

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Get this book on Amazon here!

Bonus: A stretch must not always be rarefied. Ordinary work at an extraordinary level is indeed aspirational.

Bonus2: Entrepreneurs vs Bureaucrats


Those who do more than anyone thinks possible… with less than anyone thinks possible.


Those who do less than anyone thought possible… with more than anyone thinks possible.

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