History of OKRs

For a brief history, let’s travel back to the 1970’s. Disco is in, bell bottoms are the latest fad, and Andrew Grove, president of Intel, first developed and implemented OKRs in his book, “High Output Management.” Andy Grove reshaped management into something simpler and easier by asking two essential questions.

  1. Where do I want to go?
  2. How will I pace myself to get there?

Now it is 1974 and John Doerr joins Intel and is introduced to OKRs. Later, Doerr served as an adviser during Google’s earliest moments and in 1999, introduced OKRs to Google’s founders. Now, Doerr is well known for championing the goal setting solution and Google still uses OKRs to this very day.

Doerr’s own words on OKRs are that, “I remember being intrigued with the idea of having a beacon or north star every quarter, which helped set my priorities. It was also incredibly powerful for me to see Andy’s OKRs, my manager’s OKRs, and the OKRs for my peers. I was quickly able to tie my work directly to the company’s goals. I kept my OKRs pinned up in my office and I wrote new OKRs every quarter, and the system has stayed with me ever since.”

And it has stayed with many others as well including Google,Twitter, Spotify, Linkedin, Amazon, and many others. You can check out an expansive list here of companies using OKRs here.

The biggest change in last years has been the explosive growth of OKR users and the technology to implement them. Thought leaders like Weekdone have now done OKR software for more than 5 years, so it has become an established sector.