Whether we’re aware of it, we’re constantly setting goals. From big, professional goals like getting promoted or delivering a project on time to smaller, personal goals, like making it to happy hour after work with your friend.
As you can imagine, not all goals are created equally. And setting the right goals for the right reasons can be the difference between success and failure.
“Setting the right goals for the right reasons can be the difference between success and failure.”
In a recent TED Talk by engineer, venture capitalist, and chairman of Kleiner Perkins, John Doerr, he explains why the secret to success is setting the right goals. He walks us through “Objectives and Key Results,” or OKRs—a goal-setting system that’s been used by Google, Intel, and Bono to set and execute on audacious goals.
“Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs, are a simple goal-setting system and they work for organizations, they work for teams, they even work for individuals. The objectives are what you want to have accomplished,” said John in the video. “The key results are how I’m going to get that done. Objectives. Key results. What and how. But here’s the truth: Many of us are setting goals wrong, and most of us are not setting goals at all. A lot of organizations set objectives and meet them. They ship their sales, they introduce their new products, they make their numbers, but they lack a sense of purpose to inspire their teams.”
So how do you set these goals the right way? John says you must first answer the question, “Why?” He argues that “truly transformational teams combine their ambitions to their passion and to their purpose, and they develop a clear and compelling sense of why.”
John points to Bono’s ONE organization as an example of businesses leveraging their passion. Bono uses OKRs to fight against poverty and disease, and his organization is focused on two audacious goals: debt relief for the poorest countries in the world and universal access to anti-HIV drugs.
“Truly transformational teams combine their ambitions to their passion and to their purpose, and they develop a clear and compelling sense of why.”
“So you’re passionate? How passionate? What actions does your passion lead you to do? If the heart doesn’t find a perfect rhyme with the head, then your passion means nothing. The OKR framework cultivates the madness, the chemistry contained inside it. It gives us an environment for risk, for trust, where failing is not a fireable offense. And when you have that sort of structure and environment and the right people, magic is around the corner,” said Bono in the video.
Anyone can cultivate this magic by taking the time to write down their values, objectives, and key results. And these OKRs aren’t just for your professional life.
As John says, “We can take them to our families, to our schools, even to our governments. […] We can get back on the right track if we can and do measure what really matters.”
by Jake Peters
Jake is the CEO of HelpDocs, self-serve customer support software for teams. When he's not helping customers or writing code, you'll probably find him in the kitchen cooking something delicious.
Emily has written for some of the top tech companies, covering everything from creative copywriting to UX design. When she's not writing, she's traveling the world (next stop: Japan!), brewing kombucha, and biking through the Pacific Northwest.