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Summary: Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr

“As much as I hate process, good ideas with great execution are how you make magic. And that’s where OKRs come in.” – Larry Page, Google co-founder

The Objective: WHAT you want to achieve.

The Key Results: HOW you’re going to achieve your objective; 3-5 measurements that indicate you’re moving closer to your objective. Common key results include revenue, growth, active users, customer satisfaction scores, etc.

Book Summary: Measure What Matters - How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs

3 Essentials for Setting OKRs

Audacious Objective

Set an audacious objective by being idealistic, not realistic. Ask yourself:

  • If I were freed from constraints, what change would I want to make in the world?
  • If I had the unique opportunity to be the best in the world at one thing, what would that be?

After discovering a goal that inspires you, scale it back until it’s one step short of being impossible. Your objective must be significant and inspiring, but believable.

When Bill and Melinda Gates started ‘The Gates Foundation,’ they set an audacious objective of eradicating malaria by 2015. However, they realized it was an impossible goal that demotivated the team, so they adjusted their objective to eradicate malaria by 2040. The new objective was still big, but now it was believable. This audacious objective inspired the team to grow to meet the challenge.

“When you try to do something BIG, you never entirely fail” – Larry Page

Quality & Quantity Key Results

“Objectives are the stuff of inspiration and far horizons. Key results are more earthbound and metric-driven.” – John Doerr

Example Objective (from the book): Win the Indy 500

Weak Key Results:

  • Increase lap speed
  • Reduce pit stop time

Average Key Results:

  • Increase average lap speed by 2%
  • Reduce average pit stop time by 1 second

Strong Key Results:

  • Increase average lap speed by 2% (quantity result)
  • Reduce average pit stop time by 1 second (quantity result)
  • Reduce pit stop errors by 50% (quality result)
  • Practice pit stops 1 hour a day (quality and quantity result)

A strong set of key results are specific and measurable quality and quantity targets. When you have quality and quantity key results, you reduce costly errors and re-work.

Key results are like gauges on the dashboard of your vehicle. You want to increase average speed while keeping your RPM and engine temperature low so that you can get to your destination as efficiently as possible.

Color Coding Check-ins

Regular color-coding check-ins will keep you accountable for setting challenging key result targets and making progress on those key results.

Each week, month or quarter (you choose the time frame based on your key results), look at your key results and label each result green, yellow or red.

  • Green means you are 70%-100% on target, and you should continue with your current strategy.
  • Yellow means you are 30%-70% on target, and you need to develop a recovery plan and adjust your strategy.
  • Red means you are 0%-30% on target, and you need to develop a recovery plan or replace that key result.

“There’s no need to hold stubbornly to an outdated projection—strike it from your list and move on. Our goals are servants to our purpose, not the other way around.” – John Doerr

WARNING: If you’re approaching 100% on all your key results, you’ve failed. Aim for a mix of yellow and green key results, with an average key result score of 70% on target. “The biggest risk of all is not taking one.” – Mellody Hobson

“OKRs allowed us to be ambitious and disciplined at the same time.” – Bill Gates


“Measure What Matters” by John Doerr is a compelling and insightful book that delves into the concept of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and highlights how they have been successfully implemented by companies like Google, as well as influential figures such as Bono and the Gates Foundation. Doerr, an experienced venture capitalist and former Intel executive, draws upon his wealth of knowledge and personal experiences to provide readers with a deep understanding of OKRs and their transformative potential.

The book begins by introducing the concept of OKRs, which is a goal-setting framework aimed at aligning organizations and individuals towards achieving their objectives. Doerr explains the fundamental principles behind OKRs and how they differ from traditional goal-setting methods. He emphasizes the importance of setting ambitious yet attainable objectives and establishing measurable key results that act as milestones to track progress.

The book is divided into four parts:

  • Part One introduces the concept and history of OKRs, and how they can help organizations achieve focus, alignment, commitment, tracking, and stretching.
  • Part Two covers the ingredients for successful OKR implementation, such as setting the right objectives, choosing the right key results, cascading OKRs across levels and teams, grading OKRs regularly, and learning from OKRs.
  • Part Three explores how OKRs can be adapted to different contexts and challenges, such as culture change, innovation, crisis management, remote work, and personal growth.
  • Part Four summarizes the main lessons and benefits of OKRs, and provides some tips and resources for getting started with OKRs.

Drawing from his extensive network and experience, Doerr presents numerous case studies to illustrate the power of OKRs. He explores how companies like Google, Intel, and Amazon have utilized OKRs to foster a culture of transparency, focus, and accountability. Additionally, he examines how OKRs have been instrumental in driving social change, as exemplified by Bono’s ONE campaign and the philanthropic efforts of the Gates Foundation.

Throughout the book, Doerr provides practical advice on implementing OKRs effectively. He outlines the process of setting and cascading OKRs across teams and departments, emphasizing the importance of regular check-ins and continuous feedback. He also addresses common challenges and misconceptions surrounding OKRs, offering valuable insights on how to overcome obstacles and maximize their impact.

The book also provides practical advice on how to set, track, and review OKRs, as well as how to deal with common challenges and pitfalls. It illustrates the power of OKRs with real-life case studies from various domains, such as:

  • How Google used OKRs to grow from a start-up to a global leader in search, advertising, and innovation.
  • How Bono’s ONE Campaign used OKRs to mobilize millions of people and influence policy makers to fight poverty and disease.
  • How the Gates Foundation used OKRs to measure the impact of their philanthropic efforts and optimize their resources.
  • How other companies, such as Intel, Netflix, Spotify, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Zume Pizza, used OKRs to achieve remarkable results in their respective fields.

“Measure What Matters” is a meticulously researched and well-written book that offers valuable insights into the world of OKRs. Doerr’s expertise shines through as he combines real-life examples, anecdotes, and data to support his claims. The book is structured in a logical and concise manner, making it easy for readers to grasp the concepts and apply them in their own organizations.

One of the book’s strengths is its ability to cater to a broad audience. Whether you are a CEO, manager, team leader, or an individual striving for personal growth, “Measure What Matters” provides actionable guidance and inspiration. Doerr’s writing style is engaging and accessible, ensuring that readers from various backgrounds can benefit from the book’s content.

Furthermore, the case studies presented in the book are diverse and compelling. They demonstrate how OKRs can be applied in different contexts, from technology giants to non-profit organizations. This breadth of examples allows readers to see how OKRs can be adapted to suit their specific needs and goals.

However, one potential drawback of the book is its heavy emphasis on success stories. While the achievements of companies like Google and the Gates Foundation are undoubtedly impressive, a more balanced perspective that includes potential failures or challenges would have added depth to the narrative. Nonetheless, Doerr’s passion for OKRs and his genuine belief in their effectiveness are evident throughout the book, making it a persuasive read.

Insights and Critique:

While “Measure What Matters” provides a comprehensive overview of OKRs and their implementation, there are some areas where the book could be improved:

  • Lack of depth in some areas: At times, the book glosses over certain aspects of OKRs, such as the importance of setting clear and measurable Key Results. More detail on these topics would be beneficial for readers who are new to OKRs.
  • Limited examples: While Doerr provides several real-world examples of OKRs in action, more case studies and examples from a wider range of industries and organizations would have strengthened the book’s credibility and practicality.
  • Overemphasis on Google: While Google is an example of an organization that has successfully implemented OKRs, the book could benefit from more diverse case studies to demonstrate the versatility of OKRs across different industries and contexts.


In conclusion, “Measure What Matters” is a comprehensive guide to setting and achieving objectives using the OKR framework. The book provides practical advice, real-world examples, and actionable tips that can be applied to any organization. While some of the concepts may feel repetitive, the book is inspiring and motivating, highlighting the potential of OKRs to drive growth, innovation, and impact. Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to improve their goal-setting and achieve greater success in their organization.

I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars. I think it is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to achieve more with less. I think it could have been improved by providing more examples from different sectors and contexts, such as non-profits, education, or government. I also think it could have been more balanced by acknowledging some of the limitations or drawbacks of OKRs, such as the potential for over-optimism, gaming, or tunnel vision.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and I learned a lot from it. I think it is a must-read for anyone who wants to measure what matters.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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