Such a cool book. After having gettting myself stoked for Learning About Ultralearning, got lazer focused learning from John Doerr, one of Google’s first investors.
Now this book is pretty interesting, all things considered. It explains a more effective way to make goals. More importantly, goals that scale with your business. But I am already getting ahead of myself.
John Doerr uses a number of different case studies to demonstrate the effectiveness of using a system for establishing goals that are incredibly responsive to the changing needs of any business (or lifestyle). Having first learned the importance of goal setting from the behemoth INTEL, it was discovered that goals can be incredibly effective. The operative word here is “can”.
You see, goals have this impeccable way of aligning and stretching organizations and people. But at the same time, that can mean that people of the organzaiton are being stretched to whatever direction they are being aligned. And that can mean “whoever yells the loudest.”
What Doerr proposes, as he has probably thousands of times, is that what people need to do is define simply what objective they would like to accomplish and then define what the key results will be for accomplishing the objective. Hence, “Objective Key Results” or OKRs.
So let me explain with the use of a story. You see, I am in the middle of a project right now, an ultra learning project, that is fairly well defined. And as I go along, the scope of the project has the propensity to grow. And the goal for the project seems to be increasingly more difficult to manage. Why? Because the goal (read 100 books) is as simple as that. Now, I have been making blog posts, and I have been making videos, and I have even been letting people know on social media what it is that I am working on. But that’s really only the start, I am also telling others about the project, I am shopping for other books, I am asking for recommendations… essentially, I am investing a tremendous amount of time around projects that have nothing to do with the central goal (read 100 books).
So let’s make an OKR
Objective: Read 100 Books
The important thing here is that we need to be able to obviously be able to “prove” that this was done. Otherwise, I could say that it was done, say that I read 100 books, and voila I made my goal. 🙂 See, that’s a terrible way to make progress: lie, lie, lie.
So what do we do about it? Well, I fell like asking the classic “who, what, where, when, why, which, and how” questions can really establish the Key Results portion of the OKR.
What will be observably true once I have read 100 books? Well… nothing explicitly except maybe the passage of time. But one of the key features of OKRs is that time is not necessarily a factor if you don’t need/want it to be.
Where will it be observably true that I have read 100 book? What about a dedicated page on my website that shows all the different books I have read? That sounds like our first Key Result.
Key Result #1: Make 1 page on alixander.co where you can find the list of 100 books I have read.
Okay, so let’s say that we can just make a list on my website and call it good… then we are back at square one with lie to get results. Let’s try this again.
How will it be observably true that I have read 100 books? What about I make a book review of every book that I have read on youtube.com? Perfect!
Key Result #2: Create 100 YouTube videos for every book that I have read where I review the key concepts from each book.
That’s great now lets dig in just a little bit more. Lets say that I simply read through the wikipedia pages and watch youtube videos to understand the basic concepts…. again, not necessarily at square one but we aren’t as close as we need to be. So let’s try this one more time.
What will be observably true that I have read 100 books? What about I make a blog post that goes in deeper into what I have read and thereby showcasing my grasp of the knowledge I have grappled with? That’s exactly the right answer.
Key Result #3: Create 100 Blog Posts for each of the 100 Videos with a minimum of 1000 words
Now that is what I call key results!
Read 100 Books
- Make 1 page on alixander.co where you can find the list of 100 books I have read.
- Create 100 YouTube videos for every book that I have read where I review the key concepts from each book.
- Create 100 Blog Posts for each of the 100 Videos with a minimum of 1000 words.
That’s what I call OKRs!
Now, OKRs don’t necessarily make it easier to get your goals completed. What OKRs do is they enable you to Measure What Matters, and what matters?
Say it with me now, “RESULTS MATTER!”Alixander
And when you confidently know what results you are striving for you can ask the all important questions: How did we do? Did we accomplish our objective? What do our results look like?
But how you answer those questions you see is the most un-intuitive thing about OKRs that I found. You see, when we are working towards goals, we can offer only two answers to the goal: did we or did we not achieve the goal. What’s particularly interesting about OKRs is that you can make use of a grading system, or a metric for our accomplishments.
Essentially it works like this, according to Google: on a scale of 0.0 to 1.0, how well did you achieve the objective?
Let’s say you review the objective once all of the key results are in. And lets say that you look at key result number one and you can clearly see that it is completed. So go ahead and give your self like 0.2 towards the objective completion grade. That wasn’t like crazy difficult for a key result, but you did make strides towards completion. If we did nothing else towards this object but made that page 0.2 would be a red. We don’t say failure in the corporate world apparently, but you get a red on your objective completion.
But then let’s say we take a look and in fact you have 100 videos made on youtube. So let’s give your self 0.3. because that was actually pretty hard to do. Now that brings you total of completion measurement to 0.5. And according to the grading system, that would put at a yellow. I guess we can’t say, nice try kid either.
And then we look at the blog posts. Yes, there is 100 blog posts. Yes, they are amazing works of art. But the only thing that you struggled in was the word count. Instead of having 100,000 words, there is 80,000 altogether. Close enough. So we give you a 0.4 because that was crazy difficult and you essentially wrote a novel. Good for you! That brings your total completion grade to a 0.9, and according to the Google grading system you are in the green. And we all know how much we love green.
So there you have it, I have completed this blog post and I have definitely showcased one more piece of how I am working to accomplish my objective of reading 100 books.
When you are interested in learning more about the project, or have any suggestions for me, please let me know!
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