Here's How Google's 10x Growth Methodology Can Be Used to Close the Gender Gap in Leadership
This week I read a book called Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth by John Doerr and initially, as I was reading it, I kept thinking: "Oh no, another management theory that can easily turn into a bureaucratic nightmare!" until I read some more. OKRs come from Intel's Andy Grove and John Doerr later brought them to Google, Adobe, Intuit, the Gates Foundation and other organizations.
The concept is actually quite simple: If you want to drive growth (or any other big transformation), you need to have some clear and ambitious objectives (the "O") that you communicate to your employees. AKA: WHAT you need to achieve. To turn these objectives into outcomes, you need to define and align the key results (KRs) departments and employees need to achieve within a determined period of time (HOW you will achieve the goals). The OKRs need to be transparent, measurable and timely. Ideally, you should set only 4-5 KRs per objective. OKRs should reflect the most important priorities for the company to help teams focus and avoid distractions. KRs are NOT linked to compensation. They shouldn't be used to punish or reward employees but instead, they are a tool that helps management and employees to get together every quarter and reflect on what worked and what didn't and see how they are progressing towards the stated objectives. If progress is not on track, it's time to revise the approach or the KR (if it's deemed irrelevant or unrealistic). To close this year, I'd like to share with you my OKRs for hypothetical company ABC, as they relate to increasing the share of women among its leadership ranks: Objective: Reach gender parity in leadership by 2024 KR#1: Increase hiring of entry level women to 50% across all functions KR#2: train 100% of leaders on feedback and career planning conversations KR#3: increase promotion rate of women from middle to senior level roles by 100% KR#4: increase share of high potentials to 50% women KR#5: increase share of line top leaders to 50% women Now, these OKRs are actually "wrong" because to reach parity in 2024, company ABC would need to measure progress on a quarterly or semi-annually basis. So if you are working on this OKR, you can dial down the numbers, as long as in the longer term, they will add up to achieve our big objective of gender parity in leadership. KRs also need to be time bound so you'd need to set a deadline for each item. As you are reading my KRs, you may be thinking: "But we don't have x.." or: "We will be promoting/hiring the wrong people. This will kill meritocracy.." Instead, I would encourage you to think about it like any other business problem: how can we hire fantastic people, who are also women, and ensure that they make our company even better? Just to give you a random motivation: remember that time when YouTube didn't exist? 14 years later, it is now the second most popular website in the world, the company has 2000+ employees, is valued by some at $15 Billion dollars and has over 1.9 billion monthly active users. They used OKRs to drive much of this growth.
p.s. if you want to learn more about closing the gender gap in leadership, check out my mini course to develop a roadmap for your organization.