Published on 04.09.2019
Pairing quantity and quality key results strengthens OKRs. In Measure What Matters, John Doerr warns of the hazards of one-dimensional OKRs through the infamous tale of the Ford Pinto.
Ford introduced the budget-friendly Pinto in 1971 to counter escalating competition from Japanese and German car manufacturers. Their guiding metrics on the project were to make the new model under 2000 pounds with an under $2000 price tag. They stressed its small size, cost, and appearance both in the design and marketing.
One thing missing? Safety.
In a crash test, engineers found that a $1 dollar piece of plastic prevented punctures into the gas tank, but it was ultimately scrapped due to the additional cost and weight. After hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries, Ford recalled 1.5 million Pintos and Mercury-branded Bobcats in 1978.
Doerr writes, “The more ambitious the OKR, the greater the risk of overlooking vital criterion.” In the case of the Ford Pinto, the manufacturer should have paired their ambitious and number-heavy metrics with ones that considered safety, company reputation, and ethical behavior. In High Output Management, Andy Grove describes pairing key results as measuring “both effect and counter-effect.”
Here’s a strong and multidimensional OKR example from Measure What Matters.
O: Win the Indy 500.
Increase average lap speed by 2 percent.
Test at wind tunnel ten times.
3. Reduce average pit stop time by one second.
4. Reduce pit stop errors by 50 percent.
This OKR anticipates that reducing pit stop time can lead to cutting corners or at the very least unintentional mistakes as the team speeds up their work. It is not enough just to do a faster job, the pit stop crew also needs to make as few errors as possible. By pairing the two key results, the team makes clear that their goal is to increase both the speed and quality of their work.
Here are more examples of strong OKRs with paired quantity and quality key results:
O: Increase sales by 50 percent over last quarter
1. Generate $10 million in sales
2. At least 10 percent of sales must come from returning clients
Reach 95 percent customer satisfaction
O: Launch mobile app update by Q3
1. Design and build three new features
2. Fewer than 2 bugs per feature in quality assurance testing
Average 4 star rating in app store
O: Improve company website
Redesign visuals and layout of website
3. Reach 1 million monthly visitors
4. Increase average visit times by 20 percent
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