Author:
Billy Casey

Dear Andy,

I am producing a brand new (hopefully) Broadway-bound musical and want to use OKRs to get us motivated and on the right track. If you’re familiar with the world of Broadway, only 20 percent of the shows that open each year recoup their investment, so it’s definitely a risky endeavor. We have goals set up for all of our financial and logistical hurdles to make the show happen, but I really want to create a long-term goal that will inspire everyone involved and let them know my intentions for the longevity of this show. I was thinking about using another show as a competitor…something like ‘Be Bigger Than Wicked.’ How does that sound? And if we end up going with that, do you have any suggestions for KRs? The only thing we can think of is ‘Win 10 Tonys’ but I’d love some input.

Sincerely,

Andre

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Hi Andre, thanks for writing in!

Full disclosure, I am a HUGE Broadway fan, so I was thrilled when I got your question. It’s going to be tough to resist the urge to compare OKRs to ‘Seasons of Love’ (how do you measure…measure an Objective?) but I’ll do my best :)

I think ‘Be bigger than Wicked’ is a great Objective. People are naturally competitive and outperforming a rival is a great and concrete way to inspire your team to action. This works great as it affects everyone involved in your show whether you’re a lead producer, stitcher, swing, or standby.

This begs the question, then, what makes Wicked—or any Broadway show—big? How will you know when your ‘bigness’ has been achieved? What milestones has Wicked hit that makes it the success it is? Is it run length? Is it box office capacity? Glowing reviews by tastemaker critics? Tony awards? Picking these metrics is a crucial step to writing your OKRs and should not be taken lightly.

For example, while Tony awards are often considered the merit of quality in this industry, it’s important to remember that Wicked, despite its current state as a global phenomenon, didn’t actually didn’t win many of the big ticket Tonys the year it opened. Not to discount the importance of Tony awards (or the shows that won them that year), but it’s good to remember that success can be measured in lots of different ways. I would definitely suggest consulting your team and getting a consensus on this. Afterall, this is the goal they’ll be working towards for a long time to come.

Here’s a mock set of OKRs for you:

o
Be Bigger Than Wicked
kr1
Production is translated and plays in 20 countries by x time
kr2
Recoup investment by x
kr3
Play at 100%+ capacity for 12 months
kr4
Rights are sold to x amount of regional theatres by x time

All that being said, I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a second here: as a brand new show, is Wicked your competition? Wicked has been running since 2003 and its success is an anomaly in the business. It’s like a new phone company deciding that their main goal is ‘Be ‘bigger than Apple.’ It’s all about perspective. I don’t want to reign in your horses, but have you considered comparing your show to another production that, perhaps, hasn’t been running this long? ‘Be Bigger than Wicked’ is a great North Star, but as for an immediate Objective, something like ‘Be Bigger than Hadestown’ might feel like a more doable option. 100% up to you, but something to consider at least.

Regardless of what you chose, it sounds like you’re on the right track and have a product you’re proud of—which, in the end, is half the battle, isn’t it? Thanks for writing in, Andre and break a leg!

Sincerely,

Billy from the What Matters Team

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