The four superpowers of OKRs

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How did the likes of Google deliver 10x growth? How did Intel, the Gates Foundation, Bono’s One campaign and several ECI portfolio companies achieve transformative outcomes? They used the superpowers of OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), the goal-setting framework popularised by John Doerr in his book “Measure What Matters”.

As mid-market businesses aim for rapid scaling, they can fall victim to strategic confusion without using OKRs. A lack of clear objectives often results in departments chasing their own priorities, wasting effort, and leading to the misalignment of goals. Equally, without measuring key results it’s impossible to track progress and identify bottlenecks, leading to stunted, rather than rapid growth.

The superpowers critical to driving business performance

Central to their framework, Doerr identifies the four “superpowers” of OKRs which provide a structured approach to goal-setting and execution:

1. Focus and commit to priorities

Growing companies are often faced with juggling multiple initiatives and this superpower emphasises the importance of identifying and committing to a few high-impact goals, ensuring resources and efforts are concentrated where they matter most. Everyone, from executives to frontline staff, can direct their energy towards achieving the goals that truly matter for growth.

2. Align and connect for teamwork

Rapid scaling can create silos within a company, but by making OKRs visible across the organisation they act as a common thread. Teams then break down internal barriers, align their efforts, and foster a collaborative environment where everyone is working towards common objectives.

3. Track for accountability

Without clear metrics, growth can become a guessing game. Regular tracking and review of OKRs ensure that progress is monitored, obstacles and roadblocks are identified early, course corrections happen quickly, and teams remain accountable for their commitments.

4. Stretch for amazing

To really drive growth, boundaries need to be challenged. Encouraging ambitious, stretch goals unlocks team innovation and achieves extraordinary results, driving growth and competitive advantage. These goals might seem out of reach at first, but they motivate teams to perform at their best.

OKRs provide a robust framework for goal-setting that has been proven to significantly enhance organisational performance. By embracing the principles, leaders can cultivate a culture of clarity, accountability, and continuous improvement, ultimately positioning their organisations for long-term success.

However, creating and executing OKRs isn’t simple. Doerr’s book provides insights and real-world examples to contextualise their implementation and I highly recommend finding the time to read it. You can also read OKR expert, Peter Kerr’s top five tips for implementation here.

About the author

Duncan Ramsay

"I split my time between assessing new deals for ECI and supporting our portfolio companies in driving their value creation agenda as a member of ECI’s Commercial Team. I have spent my career focused on growth, both working within a “real business”, and in consulting – and I bring that experience to bear at ECI."

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