Three Things I Learned from Measure What Matters

I’ve been fascinated by objectives and key results for a bit. Read a ton of blog posts, advocated for it in previous positions, and attempted to create my own personal OKRs.

But I never dug into the history. I knew that John Doerr was a top voice in the space, and that Google was one of the earliest adopters of the OKR-setting, but that was it.

I finally picked up Measure What Matters, Doerr’s brief history and extrapolation of OKRs, why they exist, and how to use them to grow yourself, your business, and beyond.

Here are three things I took from this book:

Do. Measure. Do. Measure.

Strategizing is great. Executing is better.

Ideas are easy. Execution is everything.

John Doerr, Measure What Matters

This is so simple, but super important. You can talk all day, pour through analytics all day, hypothesize what could be, but it’s not until you do that you see key results.

In a book centered on getting your OKRs on paper, I appreciated that Doerr communicates that the achievement of success is very much up to you.

Recognize the Yin and Yang

It’s easy to mired in tasks, or keep your head in the clouds with lofty “big picture” stuff. OKRs provide the balance.

Objectives and key results are the yin and yang of goal setting-principle and practice, vision and execution. Objectives are the stuff of inspiration and far horizons. Key results are more earth-bound and metric-driven.

John Doerr, Measure What Matters

Another great quote: “As prize pupil Marissa Mayer would say, “It’s not a key result unless it has a number.”

Get back on the field

I was able to tie a lot of themes to Play Bigger. I think the idea of always being in the game is valuable.

You know, in our business we have to set ourselves uncomfortably tough objectives, and then we have to meet them. And then after ten milliseconds of celebration we have to set ourselves another [set of] highly difficult-to-reach objectives and we have to meet them. And the reward of having met one of these challenging goals is that you get to play again.

Andy Grove via John Doerr, Measure What Matters

As a marketer, I’m not a cheerleader, and I’m certainly not one to celebrate. I think I’ve seen what decline looks like too intimately to get comfortable at the top. The idea of celebrating for a few milliseconds then getting back on the field is powerful.

Have you read this book? Let me know what you thought!


Tom Tate

I'm a suburban polymath living just outside Philadelphia with my wonderful wife and three kids. Digital marketing nerd for a SaaS company by day. Rabid movie, music, game, and book consumer by morning, noon, and night. I share life hacks and learnings via email at Weekly Coffee. I also host Power Time Podcast, a Nintendo retrospective. Sometimes I write stuff. Most of the time, it's on the internet.