OKR - Measure for output

By Kaden Sungbin Cho
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Published on
how to measure and improve

As a student who graduated from management domain, I've admired Peter Drucker and his monumental works on management fields for years. But, recently I've astonishingly realized the link between Peter Drucker and the comparably modern concept 'OKR'.

To know about the origin of OKR, we could start from the Intel and its legendary (former) CEO Andrew Grove.

Andrew Grove and Intel

As we're following up the story of Andrew Grove's career from Fairchild to Intel, we could find his own remark on the Intel's culture compared to the previous Fairchild:

"We tend to be exactly the opposite. It almost doesn't matter what you know. It's what you can do with whatever you know or can acquire and actually accomplish tends to be valued here"

It's the philosophy of Andrew Grove on the core of Intel and it was OKR that could enable to execute that output-based management.

His another remark on the OKR goes like this:

The objective is the direction. Key result is a milestone. It has to be 'measurable'. But at the end you can look, and without any argument: Did I do that or did I not do it? Yes? No? Simple. No judgements in it.

So, where does the idea come from? Does he conceive it on his own?

Peter Drucker's 'Management by Objectives'

In many aspects of its concepts, the OKR resembles the MBO (Management by Objective) of Peter Drucker, and it was named as 'iMBO' (i for Intel) initially.

Especially, the iMBO seeks to avoid the "activity trap" which Peter Drucker uses to describe the situation focusing on increase of activity rather than output.

Yes. It also focuses on the 'output' - what you can do or accomplish.

But Grove rarely mentioned the objective(O) without key results(KR), so the term OKR is coined by John Doer who had a chance to work with Grove in Intel. As a successful venture capitalist and investor in tech industry, he has been used and improved what he learned from Grove. His remarkable footprints in tech industry cover Intel, Kleiner Perkins, Compaq, Netscape, Sun Microsystems, Amazon, Intuit, Google, and the others.

So, the OKR has its current presence by being battle-tested for years in numerous companies to make it done.

How to execute it

  1. Write down the objectives
  2. Write down measurable key results for the objectives
  3. Share, get feedback and align
  4. State it publicly
  5. Execute
  6. Review quarterly or monthly and redo

Bear in mind that it's for the output, measure and execution.

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