Measure What Matters - Book Notes

Mar 13, 2024

Unlocking Organizational Success: The Power of OKRs and CFRs

In today's competitive business landscape, achieving success requires more than just ambition—it demands strategic goal-setting and effective performance management. Enter Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and Continuous Performance Management (CPM) practices, including Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition (CFRs).

In this exploration of "Measure What Matters" by John Doerr, we delve into how OKRs and CFRs drive excellence, accountability, and innovation. From setting clear objectives to fostering transparency and empowerment, these frameworks revolutionize team operations, driving productivity and success.

Join me as we uncover the transformative potential of OKRs and CFRs, offering practical insights and actionable strategies for implementation. Whether you're a leader, manager, or team member, learn how to harness these frameworks to achieve remarkable results and propel your organization forward.

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🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. "Measure What Matters" is a guidebook that introduces the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) framework, emphasizing the significance of setting clear, focused objectives to drive productivity and success.
  2. Through practical insights and real-world examples, the book advocates for a culture of accountability, transparency, and continuous improvement.
  3. By aligning organizational priorities, empowering individuals through participatory goal-setting, and integrating Continuous Performance Management practices, companies can achieve remarkable results and foster a culture of excellence.

👱 Who Should Read it?

"Measure What Matters" is essential reading for leaders, managers, and individuals striving for organizational excellence and productivity. It is particularly valuable for those interested in implementing goal-setting frameworks like OKRs to drive strategic alignment, foster accountability, and accelerate performance. Additionally, professionals seeking practical insights into building a culture of transparency, empowerment, and continuous improvement will find this book invaluable.

🍀 How the Book Changed Me

It has revolutionized my approach to leading my team, emphasizing the importance of setting clear, focused objectives and fostering a culture of accountability and continuous improvement. Adopting Continuous Performance Management practices like CFRs has enabled me to provide timely feedback, recognition, and support to my team members, empowering them to reach their full potential. Overall, the book has equipped me with the tools and mindset needed to inspire excellence, drive collaboration, and cultivate a culture of success within my team.

✍️ Top 3 Quotes

  1. "Stressing output is the key to increasing productivity, while looking to increase activity can result in just the opposite."
  2. "A few extremely well-chosen objectives impart a clear message about what we say ‘yes’ to and what we say ‘no’ to."
  3. "Most people tend to assume that things are impossible, rather than starting from real-world physics and figuring out what’s actually possible."

🔨 3 Action Points

  1. Adopt Strategic Focus with OKRs:
    Implement a focused goal-setting strategy by adopting the OKR framework, prioritizing a select few high-impact objectives aligned with the organization's mission and vision. Ensure that each objective is complemented by specific and measurable Key Results to track progress effectively.
  2. Empower Bottom-Up Goal Setting:
    Foster a culture of empowerment and inclusivity by encouraging bottom-up goal-setting practices. Empower teams and individuals to actively participate in the creation of their OKRs, leveraging diverse perspectives and collective intelligence to drive innovation and ownership.
  3. Implement Continuous Performance Management with CFRs:
    Integrate Continuous Performance Management (CPM) practices, such as Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition (CFRs), into existing workflows to enhance employee engagement and development. Implement regular check-ins, feedback loops, and recognition mechanisms to foster a culture of transparency, accountability, and continuous learning throughout the organization.

📗 Summary & Notes

Introduction: Understanding the OKR Framework

"Measure What Matters" by John Doerr introduces readers to the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) framework, a goal-setting methodology employed by successful companies like Google and Intel. OKRs provide a structured approach to defining and achieving objectives, emphasizing clarity, focus, accountability, and ambition.

Defining Objectives and Key Results

Objectives, as explained by Doerr, are the 'what' of goal-setting. They encapsulate significant, concrete aims that inspire action and drive progress. Key Results, on the other hand, represent the 'how' - they define specific, measurable milestones that benchmark progress towards the objectives. Doerr stresses the importance of making Key Results quantifiable and time-bound, as they provide clarity and eliminate ambiguity.

Objectives: Objectives within the OKR framework serve as the guiding stars for organizations, teams, and individuals. They articulate the overarching goals that need to be accomplished within a specific timeframe. Here's a deeper dive into the features of objectives:

  1. Significance and Inspiration: Objectives should be significant, representing meaningful outcomes that contribute to the organization's mission and vision. They should also be inspirational, motivating individuals and teams to strive for excellence.
  2. Clarity and Concreteness: Objectives must be clear and concise, leaving no room for ambiguity. They should articulate precisely what needs to be achieved, providing a clear direction for action.
  3. Action-Oriented: Objectives are action-oriented, focusing on what needs to be done rather than how it will be accomplished. They serve as rallying points for teams to align their efforts and resources.
  4. Measurability: While objectives themselves may not always be directly measurable, they should be tied to measurable outcomes through key results. This ensures that progress towards the objective can be tracked and evaluated.

Key Results: Key Results are the measurable outcomes that indicate progress towards achieving the objectives. They provide the specific targets or milestones that individuals and teams aim to reach. Here's a closer look at the features of key results:

  1. Specificity and Time-Bound: Key Results should be specific, clearly defining what success looks like and when it needs to be achieved. They are often framed within a specific timeframe, aligning with the duration of the objective.
  2. Aggressiveness and Realism: Effective Key Results strike a balance between being ambitious and achievable. They should stretch individuals and teams to perform at their best while remaining within the realm of possibility.
  3. Measurability and Verifiability: Key Results must be measurable and verifiable, typically quantified with specific metrics or indicators. This ensures that progress can be objectively assessed, leaving no room for subjectivity.
  4. Benchmarking Progress: Key Results serve as benchmarks to monitor progress towards the objective. They provide a tangible way to track performance and make informed decisions based on real-time data.
  5. Pairs with Objectives: Each Key Result should directly contribute to the achievement of the corresponding objective. They are interconnected, forming a cohesive framework for goal attainment.

Simplicity and Focus: Less is More

A central tenet of the OKR framework is the principle of simplicity. Doerr advocates for focusing on a select few objectives, as too many goals can dilute focus and hinder progress. By limiting objectives to three to five per cycle and tying each objective to five or fewer key results, organizations can ensure clarity and commitment to priorities.

Empowering Teams: Bottom-Up Goal Setting

Involving teams and individuals in the goal-setting process is essential for fostering engagement and ownership. Doerr recommends promoting a bottom-up approach where teams have a say in crafting their OKRs in consultation with managers. This approach encourages autonomy, motivation, and alignment with organizational objectives.

Flexibility and Adaptability

One of the strengths of the OKR framework is its flexibility. Doerr emphasizes the importance of staying adaptable in the face of changing circumstances. Goals can be modified or discarded mid-cycle if they become impractical or irrelevant, ensuring alignment with evolving priorities and market conditions.

Aspiration and Ambition: Stretch Goals

Setting aspirational goals that push individuals and organizations beyond their comfort zones is key to driving innovation and achieving breakthrough results. Doerr argues that even if these stretch goals aren't fully achieved, they lead to remarkable outcomes and spur continuous improvement.

Transparency and Accountability

Transparency and accountability are foundational principles of the OKR framework. Regular tracking and evaluation of progress ensure that goals remain relevant and achievable. Continuous feedback and recognition play a crucial role in driving performance and fostering a culture of excellence.

Cultivating an OKR Culture

Doerr underscores the importance of aligning organizational values and beliefs with its goals. An OKR culture promotes accountability, collaboration, and a shared sense of purpose among team members. By fostering a culture of openness, trust, and continuous improvement, organizations can maximize the benefits of the OKR framework.

Continuous Performance Management with CFRs

In addition to the OKR framework, continuous performance management is implemented through Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition (CFRs). This contemporary alternative to annual reviews fosters a culture of ongoing development and accountability. Here's a closer look at the CFR framework:


  • Regular one-on-one conversations between employees and their managers are essential for driving performance. These discussions provide opportunities to assess progress, address challenges, and set goals collaboratively.
  • Conversations focus on how things are going, what was accomplished, what wasn't, and why. They serve as richly textured exchanges aimed at facilitating growth and improvement.


  • Bidirectional or networked feedback among peers plays a crucial role in evaluating progress and guiding future improvement. It enables individuals to receive constructive criticism and recognition from their colleagues, fostering a culture of continuous learning and development.
  • Specific feedback, whether positive or negative, helps individuals understand their strengths and areas for improvement, empowering them to make meaningful progress in their roles.


  • Modern recognition is performance-based and horizontal, acknowledging achievements and contributions of all sizes across the organization. When employee achievements are consistently recognized by peers, a culture of gratitude and appreciation is nurtured.
  • Clear criteria are established for recognition, tying acknowledgments to actions and results that align with organizational goals and values. Recognitions are frequent, attainable, and tied to company goals and strategies.

Integration with OKRs:

  • CFRs complement the OKR framework by providing a mechanism for ongoing feedback and development. They ensure that individuals receive timely insights into their performance and have opportunities for growth and recognition aligned with their goals.
  • By leveraging both OKRs and CFRs, organizations can create a comprehensive performance management system that elevates performance, fosters collaboration, and drives continuous improvement from bottom to top.

Benefits of CFRs:

  • Continuous performance management with CFRs enhances employee engagement, morale, and personal development. It facilitates transparent communication, fosters a culture of accountability, and empowers individuals to reach their full potential.
  • By integrating regular conversations, feedback, and recognition into the fabric of the organization, CFRs create a supportive environment where employees feel valued, motivated, and equipped to succeed.

Conclusion: Achieving Remarkable Results with OKRs

"Measure What Matters" provides a comprehensive guide to implementing the OKR framework for goal-setting and performance management. By emphasizing clarity, focus, adaptability, and accountability, organizations can achieve remarkable results and foster a culture of excellence.