How Google Sets Goals

There’s a surprising lack of public information on OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) – the goal setting and tracking philosophy used by Intel, Google and others.  This past month Google Ventures Startup Lab released a great presentation video by Rick Klau on how Google does goal setting and tracking: “How Google sets goals: OKRs

Some takeaways:

  • OKRs were introduced by John Doerr (Google board member) in 1999, based on his exposure to the use of OKRs at Intel.
  • OKRs are set and evaluated on a quarterly bases.
  • Objectives & Key Results should be bold, slightly out of reach, a little uncomfortable, unreasonable.  Objectives are not necessarily measurable, Key Results must be measurable (e.g. NN monthly visits by Y/M/D)
  • Keep it focused, max 5 Objectives with 4 Key Results
  • OKRs are not a performance evaluation tool – not a standard element of annual employee evaluation.  Although they are helpful for employees to draw upon and summarize/recall their impact over the past 4 quarters.
  • OKRs are graded each quarter.  Each Objective score [0-1] can just be an average of the Key Result scores [0-1] for that objective.  “Grades don’t matter except as a directional indicator.”
  • 60% – 70% accomplishment is good.  40% is bad.  80%+ means your goals are too easy.  The scores provides data about the individual and teams’ ability to accomplish certain goals.
  • Everyone’s OKRs are public (part of the employee directory listing)
  • Company-wide quarterly meeting to examine the top-level OKRs. This provides an opportunity to calibrate and re-prioritize.
  • Needs alignment, buy-in and participation from the top on down.  Cannot be half-hearted.

Here are some example OKRs that Rick established for his first quarter working for Google as Product Manager on Blogger.  Included are the grades [0.0 – 1.0] assessed at the end of the quarter:

Objective:  Accelerate Blogger Revenue Growth  [0.7]

Key Results:

  • Launch “Monetize” tab to all users   [1.0]
  • Implement AdSense Host Channel Placement Targeting to increase RPMs by xx%   [0.3]
  • Launch 3 revenue-specific experiments to learn what drives revenue growth   [0.7]
  • Finalize PRD for Blogger Ad Network, secure eng allocation to build in Q1   [0.8]

Objective:  Grow Blogger traffic by xx% over organic growth    [0.45]

Key Results:

  • Launch 3 features that will have a measurable impact on Blogger traffic    [0.6]
  • Improve Bloggers 404 handling, extend time on site and pageviews per session on sessions that start with a 404 error by xx%    [0.3]

Objective: Improve Blogger’s Reputation     [0.72]

Key Results:

  • Re-establish Blogger’s leadership by speaking at 3 industry events    [1.0]
  • Coordinate Blogger’s 10th birthday PR efforts    [0.8]
  • ID and personally reach out to top xx Blogger users    [0.8]
  • Fix DMCA process, eliminate music blog takedowns    [0.4]
  • Set up @blogger on Twitter, regularly participate in discussions re: Blogger product    [0.6]

In the video, a few of John Doerr’s original presentation slides are displayed.  Here they are:

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Hat tip to TechCrunch

About brendansterne

Director of Innovation Labs, Indeed.com
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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