Grading & Qualitative Judging
Grading/scoring OKR’s seem to be the aspect of the system with the least consensus. In the OKR book previously mentioned it states:
- Only Google’s “stretch goals” use a 70-100% success threshold “for sales targets or product releases, any score under 100% would be deemed a failure.” (pg.120)
- Pg.135 “google divides its OKRs into two categories, committed goals and aspirational goals…Committed O’s are to be achieved in full (100 percent) within a set time frame…Aspirational O’s fails at an average rate of 40 percent” (meaning 60% completion). Pg.139 “At Google, aspirational OKR’s are set at 60-70 percent attainment.”
- Pg.135 “the relative weighting of these two baskets is a cultural question. It will vary from one organization to the next and from quarter to quarter. Leaders must ask themselves ‘what type of company do we need to be this coming year? Agile and daring, to crack a new market – or more conservative and operational, to firm up our existing position?’”
- Pg.7 “You either meet a KR’s requirements or you don’t, there is no gray area, no room for doubt. And at the end of the designated period, typically a quarter, we declare the KR fulfilled or not.”
- Pg.120 John says “the simplest cleanest way to score an objective is by averaging the percentage completion rates of it’s KR’s”
There seems to be a contradiction/problem here. One on hand it’s implied that KR’s are pass/fail graded (complete or incomplete) yet on the other hand it’s suggested to use percentages. This isn’t just from the book, I’ve seen it all over the internet. For example:
- Objective = Dominate Silicon Valley (qualitative) = 70%
- KR = Do W (60% complete)
- KR = Do X (80% complete)
- KR = Do Y (40% complete)
- KR = Do Z (100% complete)
Here if we use percent averages for the KR’s they average out to 60% which becomes the Objective’s score. But using the same example with pass/fail grading we get:
- Objective = Dominate Silicon Valley (qualitative) = 50%
- KR = Do W (100% complete – “pass”)
- KR = Do X (0% complete – “fail”)
- KR = Do Y (100% complete – “pass”)
- KR = Do Z (0% complete – “fail”)
We had the same exact OKRs and got a completely different score and likely completely different qualitative judgments on the Objective!
QUESTION#10 : So, in your opinion which grading method is best and if neither is inherently inferior what specific situations would you use one over the other?
QUESTION#11 : What are you and/or your company’s guiding principles for deciding where to draw the line between qualitative judgment thresholds (i.e. >70% is “successful” and <60% is “failure”)?
On Pg.135 of said OKR book it explains “Google divides its OKRs into two categories, committed goals and aspirational goals…Committed O’s are to be achieved in full (100 percent) within a set time frame…Aspirational O’s fails at an average rate of 40 percent” (meaning 60% completion). Pg.139 “At Google, aspirational OKR’s are set at 60-70 percent attainment.”
QUESTION#12 : What are the potential pro’s and con’s of having different types of OKR’s throughout your business as opposed to making everything an “aspirational” or “regular” OKR? If you do have 2 different types of OKR’s how do you feel about grading one and NOT grading the other?
QUESTION#13 : If you are separating OKR categories does this also effect which type uses more or less top-down vs bottom-up goal setting? Why?
In terms of reviewing OKR performance said book states:
- pg.120 “in both one-on-one and team meetings wrap-ups/reviews consist of 3 parts: scoring, subjective self assessment, and reflection.”
- pg.119 “when an Objective gets dropped before the end of the OKR interval, it’s important to notify everyone depending on it. Then comes reflections like - what did I learn that I didn’t foresee at the beginning of the quarter? How will I apply this lesson in the future?
QUESTION#14 : Whether it be during the OKR cycle or post-OKR cycle, what meeting template have you and/or your company settled on for OKR check-in and/or performance reviews and why? I imagine the nature of a “check-in” conversation is different than a “review” conversation?
QUESTION#15 : In your experience what is your preferred OKR “postmortem protocol” once it’s indeed dropped?
. . . see Part 4 HERE