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John Doerr OKR: From Intel to Google with OKR John Doerr

In this article you will learn how John Doerr got to know OKR at Intel in 1975 and how he further developed the OKR John Doerr model on the basis of Andy Grove, the inventor of OKR.

John Doerr joined Intel in 1974 at the age of 23. At the time, he worked in sales until he attended Andy Grove’s “OKR course” in 1975.

Where and from whom John Doerr got to know OKR

Andrew Stephen Grove – short
Andy Grove
– is the founder of OKR. He was also a co-founder (“late founder”) and CEO of Intel for many years.

In 1971, Andy Grove introduced the OKR approach at Intel. At the time, Grove still called the method “iMbO – Intel Management by Objectives”, as it was his further development of the classic MbO – Management by Objectives. In 1983, Grove documented his approach in his book “High Output Management”. In it, he described the method of qualitative indicators and measurable indicators – later “objectives” and “key results”.

Andy Grove

Andrew Grove or Andy Grove, 1978
Source: Intel Free Press, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cover High Output Management

Book cover from 1983 – Copyright Random House Verlag

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How John Doerr got to know OKR – a video of Andy Grove’s OKR course

John Doerr attended an “OKR course” with Andy Grove in 1975 in his role as a sales employee at Intel.

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Original video of a lecture by Andy Grove from the 70s

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John Doerr joins Kleiner Perkins from Intel

In 1980, John Doerr moved to the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, which was based in Silicon Valley. John Doerr became an investment manager at the company, which was still called Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byer at the time.

John Doerr

John Doerr – approx. in 1999
Source: Book The Google Story (2018 Updated Edition): Inside the Hottest Business, Media, and Technology Success of Our Time (English Edition) Kindle edition by David A. Vise and Mark Malseed

Kleiner Perkins invests in Google under the responsibility of John Doerr

Under the responsibility of Doerr, Kleiner Perkins invested in Google in 1999.

In the same year, John Doerr introduced OKR at Google. At that time, Google employed just 40 people.

Read more about how OKR made Google successful.

Google Palo Alto

Google Team 1999 (Source: Google)
Source: Independent News & Media

How John Doerr introduced OKR at Google in 1999

Google OKR Presentation John Doerr

Reconstruction of Doerr’s presentation – Copyright Steven Macdonald
Source: https://www.slideshare.net/philiplund/okr-john-doerr-original-slide-deck-from-1999

In the conference room, which at this point consisted primarily of a table tennis table, John Doerr showed the Google team, as well as the founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, his presentation on the OKR method and the associated framework.

Google OKR Presentation John Doerr

Reconstruction of Doerr’s presentation – Copyright Steven Macdonald
Source: https://www.slideshare.net/philiplund/okr-john-doerr-original-slide-deck-from-1999

Marissa Mayer, Susan Wojcicki and Salar Kamangar were among the participants.

The start-up was enthusiastic and the OKR approach was adopted and further developed over the years. To this day, the management method is a key driver of success for Google and Alphabet Inc.

With over 100,000 employees, the Group still uses the method today.

Numerous companies and organizations worldwide use OKR today: LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Zynga, Netflix, Facebook – to name just a few.

The OKR John Doerr book – his book on the OKR method will be published in 2017

September 2017, John Doerr published his book “Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth”. The book has been translated numerous times, in German to “OKR: Objectives & Key Results: Wie Sie Ziele, auf die es wirklich ankommt, entwickeln, messen und umsetzen”. His website: www.whatmatters.com

Measure What Matters John Doerr

Book cover – Copyright: Portfolio Penguin Verlag

Advertisement: Order book at Amazon (commission link) –
Order the book translated into German at Amazon (commission link)

John Doerr

John Doerr, 2013
Source: TechCrunch, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

His book “OKR: Objectives & Key Results: How to develop, measure and implement objectives that really matter” is not a guide to OKR and not a practical handbook. The book is rather the history and biography of OKR. In it, John Doerr reports how he encountered the OKR method at Intel in the early 1970s and how he later spread it. In the book, he also includes reports from numerous people whom he has helped to achieve success using the OKR method.

Among them is the story of Nuna, an American data platform in the healthcare sector, about which the founder Jini Kim reports. It also reports on MyFitnessPal and Intuit, how to align companies with objectives and that companies whose employees align their activities with company objectives are twice as efficient as the competition. There is also a report on Quicken, the first desktop program for personal finances and the software manufacturer Intuit, which was very popular in the 1980s. It also tells the exciting story of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, founded in 2000 by Bill Gates and his ex-wife Melinda Gates. The book also covers the idea of stretch goals or 10x thinking based on the history of Google Chrome and how it initiates radical innovations – as well as the YouTube story.
Other exciting stories round off the book: those of Zume Pizza and of U2 and lead singer Bono.

The descriptive text of the book states promisingly: How the OKR Superpowers and how managers strengthen the target muscle of an organization.

Co-founder and long-time CEO of Google and later Alphabet Inc, Larry Page, also comments on OKR in John Doerr’s book. His quote was translated into German as follows:

OKRs have helped us to grow tenfold - time and time again.

Larry Page, co-founder and long-standing CEO of Google, later Alphabet

How Google uses OKR – an insight via the John Doerr OKR PDF: Google’s OKR playbook

On Doerr’s website: www.whatmatters.com he publishes,
Google’s OKR Playbook
and gives an insight into how Google uses OKR.

OKR Google Playbook Cover

E-Book Cover – Copyright: John Doerr

OKR Google Playbook Intro

E-Book Intro – Copyright: John Doerr

Doerr reveals the OKR John Doerr Principle for right targets in his TED Talk

Below is the TED Talk by John Doerr:“Why the right goals are the secret to success“. Sometimes institutions and managers disappoint us. However, this does not mean that they are evil or unethical, says John Doerr. This is more because they lead us to the wrong goals. “Objectives and key results” – OKRs – help us to get back on track, as John Doerr shows us in his presentation. With the goal-setting method of Intel, Google and more, even the most daring goals can be achieved. Learn more about how OKRs can strengthen the sense of responsibility within the company and make the difference between success and failure.

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The TED Talk video by John Doerr: “Why the secret to success is setting the right goals”

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John Doerr OKR News on Twitter

John Doerr regularly reports news on Twitter: @WhatMattersOKRs.

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The TED Talk video by John Doerr: “Why the secret to success is setting the right goals”

How John Doerr developed OKR further

John Doerr has made successive developments since his introduction to Google in 1999. Here are some of his “inventions”:

John Doerr’s OKR formula or formulation

How John Doerr formulates OKR sets: John Doerr has developed the following formulation for the formulation of qualitative objectives and the corresponding quantitative key results:

OKR Formula John Doerr

The original formula reads: I will (Objective) as measured by (Key Results).

Here, “measured by” emphasizes the core of OKR: measurability – because it is only through measurability that a goal becomes a real goal. If a goal cannot be measured, it is nothing more than wishful thinking.

John Doerr OKR Score – the OKR target achievement level and the OKR traffic light

How has John Doerr developed OKR in terms of the score, the degree of achievement? The key results are evaluated on the basis of the degree of target achievement (or “score”) on a percentage scale ranging from 0 to 100 percent or from 0 to 1.0. John Doerr has divided the score into three areas and assigned the traffic light colors red, yellow and green. This is why it is also referred to as the OKR traffic light:

  • Green stands for the achievement of a key result according to the motto “We have delivered” – between 0.7 and 1.0. From 0.7, the target is considered achieved.
  • Yellow stands for partial achievement according to the motto “We made progress, but couldn’t quite make it” – between 0.4 and 0.69.
  • Red stands for non-achievement according to the motto “We have not managed to make real progress” – between 0 and 0.39.

The OKR traffic light

John Doerr’s famous quote applies to the OKR Score:

70 percent is the new 100 percent.

John Doerr, American venture capital manager at Silicon Valley VC Kleiner Perkins

John Doerr CFR – Conversations, Feedback, Recognition

Conversations, open and effective communication should promote a culture of open exchange and ideas – as well as clear communication of goals, progress and challenges. Feedback: progress is evaluated in regular feedback loops. This involves constructive feedback to identify learning opportunities and potential for optimization and thus continuous improvement. Recognition: appreciation and motivation: achievements and successes should be recognized. It’s about creating a positive atmosphere and strengthening the team spirit.

Questions and answers

Where did John Doerr get to know OKR?

John Doerr got to know OKR (Objectives and Key Results) at Intel when he was a sales employee at Intel. He attended Andy Grove’s (CEO of Intel) “OKR course” in 1975. At the time, Grove still called the method “iMbO – Intel Management by Objectives”, as it was his further development of the classic MbO – Management by Objectives.

Who introduced John Doerr to OKR?

John Doerr got to know OKR (Objectives and Key Results) from Andrew Stephen Grove – Andy Grove for short (CEO of Intel at the time). At that time, Grove still called the method “iMbO – Intel Management by Objectives”, as it was his further development of the classic MbO – Management by Objectives. John Doerr, then a sales employee at Intel, attended an iMbO course at Grove in 1975 and learned about “OKR” there.

Did John Doerr invent OKR?

No, the actual inventor of OKR is Andrew Stephen Grove – Andy Grove for short (CEO of Intel at the time). At that time, Grove still called the method “iMbO – Intel Management by Objectives”, as it was his further development of the classic MbO – Management by Objectives. John Doerr, then a sales employee at Intel, attended an iMbO course at Grove in 1975 and learned about “OKR” there.

What is OKR and how did John Doerr popularize OKR?

OKR, short for Objectives and Key Results, is a goal management framework that helps organizations define and track their goals and results. John Doerr popularized the OKR method by learning about it at Intel in the 1970s and later introducing it to Google in 1999, where it became an important part of its success.

How did John Doerr develop the OKR Framework?

John Doerr learned about OKR (Objectives and Key Results) while working at Intel from Andy Grove, then CEO of Intel. Later, in 1999, Doerr introduced the OKR method to Google when he became an investment manager at Kleiner Perkins, where he helped shape the company’s success.

What are the advantages of using the John Doerr OKR Framework in companies?

The use of John Doerr’s OKR framework in companies can offer several advantages. It helps align the entire organization around common goals, increases focus and accountability, promotes transparency and collaboration, fosters agility and adaptability, and ultimately drives performance and results.