Google shared with the world its Material Design Language to help app developers and web designers make more attractive looking software, but that’s not the only trick up the company’s sleeves. Google has also been very vocal about its management techniques, which it shares with other big players like Intel, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Google as a business has always gone its own way and acted rather outside the norm. This is a company that had a giant T-Rex skeleton (named Stan) outside its offices in Mountain View and which invests in R&D for everything from self-driving cars to nanotech that could cure cancer.
But as it turns out, there is a genuine method behind this madness and that method can be summed up in just 3 letters, ‘OKR’. And seeing as this strategy has proven so successful for major players like Google, Intel and others – it’s safe to say that it can probably benefit your startup to a great degree too. This is a fantastic tool to help you define your goals and to set out the steps to get there, so if you’re currently feeling a little directionless or you just want to motivate yourself and your team, it’s worth giving a shot. Better yet? It’s quick, simple and easy too!
What is OKR?
OKR stands for ‘Objectives and Key Results’, and it is a method for tracking objectives and their outcomes. In fact, it was actually Intel that originally invented OKR, and John Doerr who popularized the concept. Essentially, this process recommends breaking down goals in a particular manner. This breakdown/structure then looks as follows:
Begin by outlining 3-5 key objectives on three levels: company, team, and personal. These objectives should be ambitious (don’t hold back), qualitative, time-bound, and actionable. We certainly can’t accuse Google of not being ambitious enough…
The next step is to define 3-4 quantifiable results beneath each of those objectives. This means basically putting numbers next to those results. OKR results might include growth numbers, performance, revenue, engagement, sales, profits, or Google ranking. In other cases, they may even be binary and measured on a pass/fail basis.
There are a number of benefits to breaking down your objectives like this. For starters, they allow you to keep your eye on the bigger picture and to aim for the sky, while simultaneously concentrating on concrete, actionable steps to get there.
This also helps to keep that vision and those steps clear and concrete for the team. In turn, that helps to keep everyone on the same page including shareholders, investors, and partners. For your startup then, you can use OKRs in order to define your agendas, and avoid being vague and abstract. At the same time, it will motivate the team, and could help if you ever seek funding.
Your OKRs should also remain flexible however, and it’s important that you be able to edit them as necessary based on your current performance. If you’re eager to jump in and get started, you might consider using an online tool to make the process that much easier. One good example is Weekdone.This simple app will walk you through the process, letting you fill out each stage and then presenting you with a summary/visualization of your objectives and steps.
It’s clear to see how the OKR process has helped Google to grow into the global force for change that it is today. Google has some pretty big objectives, but by breaking those down into concrete steps, it ensures that its team continues to work in a practical manner toward them rather than getting lost in their enormity.
Of course OKRs are only one management technique employed by Google. There are many other elements to Google’s business management that make it unique, and no doubt, you could write an entire tome on the subject.
But as a starting point, OKR is a great tool you can borrow from the tech giant. It only takes a few moments to draw up and it has some pretty impressive fans including Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Zynga… so why not give it a shot?
If any of you already employ OKR in your business model, then we’d love to hear about it in the comments. Or perhaps you use other management/goal setting techniques for your hardware startup? Let us know and be sure to subscribe if you want more insights that could help your hardware startup grow!