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Watered-down description of a useful technique, OKR. 10 pages would have been enough, probably, to explain how it works and how to use it. But the author starts a sales pitch and spends half the book with an improbable story of a startup. Pages, chapters before getting to the point: what's OKR and how it works. Get to the point! Just explain how OKR works, it's benefits and advice for using it properly. If they are good, I'm happy to buy it without going through a long fairy tale.
This tells the story of two young entrepreneurs who are struggling to build a speciality tea business. Their investor introduced them to the idea of setting objectives and key results (OKR) and then to a new chief technical officer with more extensive knowledge of how to apply them.
In some of these business novels, the story can feel forced but this was easy to read with a nice flow to it. The main learning points were clearly explained.
After the story ends, about two thirds of the way through, it reverts to the standard business book format of explaining why businesses don't make progress and how to use OKRs to drove the business forward.
There are a lot of similarities between OKR thinking and the Four Disciplines of Execution from the FranklinCovey organisation. Focus on one priority objective, measurements of the improvement, identifying actions to achieve the objective and weekly accountability and support sessions. Beyond that, there are differences which may make one more suitable for you and your business.
This may not be the best, most extensive book about Objectives and Key Results but it is very readable. The story is a gentle introduction and then you get the theory to answer your more detailed questions.
I have a few criticisms.
The book should have been better proofread to avoid the irritating typos.
OKR has its origins in Peter Drucker's ideas on management by objectives from the 1950s and updated by Intel and Google. The book follows on with this bias towards information technology businesses. This filters through into a few acronyms which are hard to understand.
I'd have liked to read the author's thoughts on how OKR can be applied outside of high tech but I think that's outside her experience.
Overall I think this is a good book for learning the practicalities of the approach. It's clearly written by an advocate so, while the book talks about reasons why things may not go well, it doesn't include general criticisms or a comparison with other focus techniques.
I've lost count of the number times I've recommended Radical Focus to product leaders. Christina has pulled of the almost impossible task of making a great book even better. If you're using or adopting OKRs then you should read this book.
I can't compliment Christina enough. In a quick and easily digestible book, Christina shows me (and you) how to implement OKRs successfully and avoid the traps so that it can be a true accelerant of team and business growth.
The structure of the book is excellent. First, a compelling narrative that one can relate to. Then, a set of chapters that review and break down the key steps in executing better through OKRs.
Trust Christina. Read Radical Focus and read it again. Then, write out your "OKR four square" on a napkin like I did and engage your team in discussion. Trust me, you will never look back.
A really nicely written book, it's rare to find something in this category that's as pleasant to read as this. A good presentation of one particular form of OKRs, which focuses on getting the benefits of alignment and communication, above all else. It was well written but also chimed with my own approach. I was a bit skeptical of the fable but it was pretty decent overall, with a few parts I found hokey. I'd recommend this book to anybody interested in applying OKRs well, or just struggling to ensure they tackle the highest priority tasks.
I love that this book starts with a fictionalised story of an almost failed startup to drive the importance of radical focus and how OKRs help with that. I love how the story also highlights the common ways teams lose focus when setting OKRs.
Will recommend this as a good read for those lazy weekends
If you’re a fan of Drucker or Sinek, this book is for you... if you’re not, then go here first for an accessible and simple to implement way to enhance your business focus. We’ve built this methodology into our business and it’s already enhanced conversations and activity at all levels! An easy read (or listen!) that will shift how you look at and address the complex work situations you’re facing.
The book was recommended by a friend who was implementing it in his software business. I initially wondered how it would fit into a different type of business. Having enjoyed the fable, I can see that we will use it extensively, but like all ideas it will be about implementation.
One issue I didn't understand though was why there were so many typos. The author needs some better proof readers!