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Measure What Matters
Cover of Measure What Matters
Measure What Matters
How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs
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Instant New York Times Bestseller
Legendary venture capitalist John Doerr reveals how the goal-setting system of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) has helped tech giants from Intel to Google achieve explosive growth—and how it can help any organization thrive.

In the fall of 1999, John Doerr met with the founders of a start-up whom he'd just given $12.5 million, the biggest investment of his career. Larry Page and Sergey Brin had amazing technology, entrepreneurial energy, and sky-high ambitions, but no real business plan. For Google to change the world (or even to survive), Page and Brin had to learn how to make tough choices on priorities while keeping their team on track. They'd have to know when to pull the plug on losing propositions, to fail fast. And they needed timely, relevant data to track their progress—to measure what mattered.
Doerr taught them about a proven approach to operating excellence: Objectives and Key Results. He had first discovered OKRs in the 1970s as an engineer at Intel, where the legendary Andy Grove ("the greatest manager of his or any era") drove the best-run company Doerr had ever seen. Later, as a venture capitalist, Doerr shared Grove's brainchild with more than fifty companies. Wherever the process was faithfully practiced, it worked.
In this goal-setting system, objectives define what we seek to achieve; key results are how those top-priority goals will be attained with specific, measurable actions within a set time frame. Everyone's goals, from entry level to CEO, are transparent to the entire organization.
The benefits are profound. OKRs surface an organization's most important work. They focus effort and foster coordination. They keep employees on track. They link objectives across silos to unify and strengthen the entire company. Along the way, OKRs enhance workplace satisfaction and boost retention.
In Measure What Matters, Doerr shares a broad range of first-person, behind-the-scenes case studies, with narrators including Bono and Bill Gates, to demonstrate the focus, agility, and explosive growth that OKRs have spurred at so many great organizations. This book will help a new generation of leaders capture the same magic.
Instant New York Times Bestseller
Legendary venture capitalist John Doerr reveals how the goal-setting system of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) has helped tech giants from Intel to Google achieve explosive growth—and how it can help any organization thrive.

In the fall of 1999, John Doerr met with the founders of a start-up whom he'd just given $12.5 million, the biggest investment of his career. Larry Page and Sergey Brin had amazing technology, entrepreneurial energy, and sky-high ambitions, but no real business plan. For Google to change the world (or even to survive), Page and Brin had to learn how to make tough choices on priorities while keeping their team on track. They'd have to know when to pull the plug on losing propositions, to fail fast. And they needed timely, relevant data to track their progress—to measure what mattered.
Doerr taught them about a proven approach to operating excellence: Objectives and Key Results. He had first discovered OKRs in the 1970s as an engineer at Intel, where the legendary Andy Grove ("the greatest manager of his or any era") drove the best-run company Doerr had ever seen. Later, as a venture capitalist, Doerr shared Grove's brainchild with more than fifty companies. Wherever the process was faithfully practiced, it worked.
In this goal-setting system, objectives define what we seek to achieve; key results are how those top-priority goals will be attained with specific, measurable actions within a set time frame. Everyone's goals, from entry level to CEO, are transparent to the entire organization.
The benefits are profound. OKRs surface an organization's most important work. They focus effort and foster coordination. They keep employees on track. They link objectives across silos to unify and strengthen the entire company. Along the way, OKRs enhance workplace satisfaction and boost retention.
In Measure What Matters, Doerr shares a broad range of first-person, behind-the-scenes case studies, with narrators including Bono and Bill Gates, to demonstrate the focus, agility, and explosive growth that OKRs have spurred at so many great organizations. This book will help a new generation of leaders capture the same magic.
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  • From the book 1

    Google, Meet OKRs

    If you don't know where you're going, you might not get there.

    -Yogi Berra

    On a fall day in 1999, in the heart of Silicon Valley, I arrived at a two-story, L-shaped structure off the 101 freeway. It was young Google's headquarters, and I'd come with a gift.

    The company had leased the building two months earlier, outgrowing a space above an ice-cream parlor in downtown Palo Alto. Two months before that, I'd placed my biggest bet in nineteen years as a venture capitalist, an $11.8 million wager for 12 percent of a start-up by a pair of Stanford grad school dropouts. I joined Google's board. I was committed, financially and emotionally, to do all I could to help it succeed.

    Barely a year after incorporating, Google had planted its flag: to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." That might have sounded grandiose, but I had confidence in Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They were self-assured, even brash, but also curious and thoughtful. They listened-and they delivered.

    Sergey was exuberant, mercurial, strongly opinionated, and able to leap intellectual chasms in a single bound. A Soviet-born immigrant, he was a canny, creative negotiator and a principled leader. Sergey was restless, always pushing for more; he might drop to the floor mid-meeting for a set of push-ups.

    Larry was an engineer's engineer, the son of a computer science pioneer. He was a soft-spoken nonconformist, a rebel with a 10x cause: to make the internet exponentially more relevant. While Sergey crafted the commerce of technology, Larry toiled on the product and imagined the impossible. He was a blue-sky thinker with his feet on the ground.

    Earlier that year, when the two of them came to my office to pitch me, their PowerPoint deck had just seventeen slides-and only two with numbers. (They added three cartoons just to flesh out the deck.) Though they'd made a small deal with the Washington Post, Google had yet to unlock the value of keyword-targeted ads. As the eighteenth search engine to arrive on the web, the company was way late to the party. Ceding the competition such a long head start was normally fatal, especially in technology.

    But none of that stopped Larry from lecturing me on the poor quality of search in the market, and how much it could be improved, and how much bigger it would be tomorrow. He and Sergey had no doubt they would break through, never mind their lack of a business plan. Their PageRank algorithm was that much better than the competition, even in beta testing.

    I asked them, "How big do you think this could be?" I'd already made my private calculation: If everything broke right, Google might reach a market cap of $1 billion. But I wanted to gauge their dreams.

    And Larry responded, "Ten billion dollars."

    Just to be sure, I said, "You mean market cap, right?"

    And Larry shot back, "No, I don't mean market cap. I mean revenue."

    I was floored. Assuming a normal growth rate for a profitable tech firm, $10 billion in revenue would imply a $100 billion market capitalization. That was the province of Microsoft and IBM and Intel. That was a creature rarer than a unicorn. There was no braggadocio to Larry, only calm, considered judgment. I didn't debate him; I was genuinely impressed. He and Sergey were determined to change the world, and I believed they had a shot.

    Long before Gmail or Android or Chrome, Google brimmed with big ideas. The founders were quintessential visionaries, with extreme entrepreneurial energy. What they lacked was management experience. For Google to have real impact, or even to reach liftoff, they would have...
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Measure What Matters
How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs
John Doerr
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