Measurement Patterns for OKRs

In writing key results for OKRs (or generally trying to find measurable goals), I have noticed several patterns of measurement.  I find this list useful when I am trying to brainstorm ways to measure a given initiative.  I can ask myself, “Hmm, is there a Symptom measure I could use here?”  Gives the imagination a little kick.  This is especially useful when I am stuck with a bunch of output-based key results and I am trying to convert to something outcome-based.  Will post more about that later; for now: it’s basically about trying to avoid the trap of measuring what’s easy to measure as opposed to what’s important to measure.

  • Milestone
    • Binary result; you do it or you don’t.
    • Example: Achieved XyZAB Certification.
  • Metric
    • You change some measure by some amount.
    • Example: Sales up 35% over same quarter last year.
  • Pioneer
    • You do the first of something, forcing you to learn and solve problems along the way.
    • Especially useful when you are moving into a whole new area.  Lays groundwork for future work.
    • Example: Produced first Department podcast.
  • Canary in the Coalmine
    • You measure the whole by measuring a predictable outlier.
    • Example: Perennially dissatisfied customer said some form of “very happy”.
  • Symptom
    • You measure the true (and difficult-to-measure) outcome you actually want by detecting a symptom it creates.
    • Example: true outcome is “increase customer knowledge of topic x”; symptom-style measurement is “20% fewer help desk calls on topic x”.
  • Stepping Stone
    • You believe that by achieving a given result, your true outcome will follow.
    • Especially good for cases where the outcome significantly lags the work you do.
    • Example: true outcome is “people enter key data in SalesForce”. You believe they don’t because your SalesForce implementation is a clutter of unnecessary fields. Stepping-stone style measurement is “Number of SalesForce fields cut in half”, based on the theory that sometime after the cycle, people will as a result start using SalesForce more regularly.
  • Straight Face
    • You make an assertion that you cannot currently say with a straight face.  Your goal is to get to the point where you can say it with a straight face.
    • Good where quantitative measures are impossible.  However, it’s squishy.  Use with caution.
    • Example: I am in good shape.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s