Book Cover - Book Review: Measure What Matters

OKRs were introduced at Intel by Andy Grove in the 70’s, and are now used by an ever increasing number of companies, especially the most innovative ones — Google, Amazon, Adobe, Linkedin, Microsoft, Facebook. Behind all of this stands the author of this book, John Doerr, a legendary venture capitalist having learnt from Andy Grove directly. John introduced Google to OKR in 1999, only a few months after the start of the company. Larry Page even wrote the foreword of this book, acknowledging the lasting impact of OKRs at Google.

OKRs are ridiculously simple to grasp, but several cycles are expected to benefit fully from them. Like any tool, there are many ways to misuse it; just look at Agile principles applied in the current workspace to understand the possible chasms between what is learnt, what is understood, and what is applied. Therefore, most of the book is devoted to case studies.

John Doerr calls on numerous CEO to relate their experience with OKRs through diversified interviews. We retrieve, of course, the stories of tech giants like Intel and Google (Google is used a lot in this book), but also small startups, the impactful Melinda & Bill Gates Foundation, and also the Bono’s ONE campaign to end poverty. I really enjoyed having a look behind the scenes, richly illustrated with anecdotes and practical examples. The book is really well written. There could not have been a better author than John Doerr to deliver the reference book on the subject.

The book will convince you that you don’t have to wait to be a large corporation to find OKRs useful. It’s even the contrary. You could practice OKRs right from the start, to create a bigger impact when your resources are scarce, and to be prepared because scaling with OKRs is maybe not a recipe for success, but is certainly one of its most delightful ingredients.

Even if all good things must come to an end, I would have liked more chapters to explain how to work with individuals OKRs, at work, and on side projects. The book is excellent, and a few more pages would have been welcome.

About the author

Julien Sobczak works as a software developer for Scaleway, a French cloud provider. He is a passionate reader who likes to see the world differently to measure the extent of his ignorance. His main areas of interest are productivity (doing less and better), human potential, and everything that contributes in being a better person (including a better dad and a better developer).

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