A little while ago I read an interesting article about goal setting at Google (or rather about setting “Objectives and Key Results”). It outlined how to set these OKRs:
- Objectives are ambitious, and should feel somewhat uncomfortable
- Key Results are measurable; they should be easy to grade with a number (at Google we use a 0 – 1.0 scale to grade each key result at the end of a quarter)
- OKRs are public; everyone in the company should be able to see what everyone else is working on (and how they did in the past)
- The “sweet spot” for an OKR grade is .6 – .7; if someone consistently gets 1.0, their OKRs aren’t ambitious enough.
Hmmm… Sounds like common sense, right? Until I got to the last bullet point.
if someone consistently gets 1.0, their OKRs aren’t ambitious enough.
Wow! That kind of floored me for a moment. Essentially it’s saying that if someone consistently meets their goals, their goals aren’t ambitious enough. Which implies that failing to meet those goals is okay because it shows ambition. And ultimately, it means it’s okay to fail and that failure is expected!
Now, I don’t think saying it’s okay to fail and not re-evaluate and reset the goal. However, it put goal-setting in a whole different light. In many schools (at least the ones I’ve worked in), there are lots of students who run into one of two problems: either they’re afraid to try something really difficult because they’re afraid to fail, or they fail at something that is difficult them and give up without re-evaluating and trying again. (Here’s an interesting article about this. And another.)
How often do we, as adults, decide not to try starting that business because it might go under? Or decide to get a “normal” job instead our dream job because it’s safer? Or turn back from items on our bucket lists because we may not do them well (or at all)? Heck, I even struggle with setting goals because I know I may not achieve them! Crazy! But definitely not uncommon.
So, what do you think? Is it achieving your goals a good thing? Let me know in the comments!