Inflating OKR & Goals With Grand Strategy

December 2nd, 2021

Goals aren’t strategies, don’t get a long todo list mixed up with strategy. Real strategy is achieving a challenge with finite resources, it’s HOW you’ll accomplish something, not the WHAT you want to have done.

Objectives Key Results (OKR), this is a managerial fad that has taken over the world. A majority of companies have these, it could even be disguised under a different name like North Star. These, by themselves, aren’t too bad, it’s better to have some goal rather than none. It also makes it easier for you to get promoted, if you met all these goals, then a payraise or promotion is justified. However, these days they macerade themselves as the grand strategy, the path forward for companies and how they’ll deal with all their competition.

 In reality, these goals are nothing more than a To-Do list with fancy wording to make them sound sophisticated and legit. Anything that’s not immediately achievable is labelled as future goals, thus gives the appearance of a long term strategy. Except, a real strategy is accomplishing a set challenge or task with finite resources, it’s not WHAT we are doing, but HOW are we going to accomplish that.

 Take Intel. After AMD has released several Zen architecture CPUs, they’ve been battered and bruised. As of 2021, AMD’s CPU’s are generally cheaper, use less power and have better specs. Over a decade of monopoly made Intel complacent and they just release a slightly better chip with an insane price, after all, nobody could compete anyway. However, that all changed. Even the laptop segment isn’t safe, where more and more laptop manufacturers include AMD.

 Using OKRs or goals, it’s to beat AMD’s CPUs and regain market share, but that’s just what they need to do. It’s a long laundry list of stuff, what’s even the point of writing that down, it’s fairly obvious. Intel’s strategy is to hire a technical CEO, invest into new chip designs and partially use TSMC manufacturing instead of solely their own. Although it’s somewhat of a to-do list, it’s certainly not a terrible strategy.

 Thus, I implore you to look at your OKR’s, goals and separate what’s just a long list of stuff to do with fancy wording to make managers happy and a real strategy to achieve a challenge or objective with finite resources.

Let’s use this blog as a case study, the end goal would be to produce enough value that 100 – 1,000 people would donate $10 per month. With that amount, I would no longer need a day job to sustain myself. Generally speaking, only a very small percentage of people would donate unless it’s a very tight-knit community.

 Then the goals would be grow the blogs readers, increase the amount of donators or create a dedicated community, much like MrMoneyMustache’s audience. These are not strategies, it’s just a wishlist of things I want to happen. I can’t whip up some motivational post or speech to accomplish this goal. A practice that occurs more and more in companies these days, where the leader sets some ambitious goals, says various placeholder motivational stuff and then expects everyone to accomplish that.

 Let’s take growing the blog’s readers, first I’d need to install website analytics, something that I opted not to have, to gauge how many readers are using the site. Then to see what the typical blog growth looks like, so I have a baseline comparison. After that, I’d need to define what genre my blog will be in, at the moment, it’s everything I have in my mind. But in reality, it’s far better to reduce the scope to a few topics, like philosophy and software development, so the audience knows exactly what they’re getting. All of these is just to set a baseline and create a brand.

 To actually grow the audience, I could post on aggregator blogs to increase exposure, to post to social media sites and reddit. In addition, to create a RSS feed and submit to RSS aggregators, that’ll expand the reach of my blog. Finally, to appear as guest posts of blogs with a similar genres. All of these, although not guaranteed to increase readers, it does increase the number people who would read my articles, and if they’re interested, continue on my blog.

 Now, this isn’t something I’m interested in doing. The entire point of this blog is to not suppress my thoughts, to pander to the market and the like. Instead, it’s to write about whatever interests me and hopefully, someone else would be interested in it as well. A friend of mine asked if I looked at the reader statistics and I said no. What point is there? If there’s 1, I’d get depressed on how few there is, if there’s 100, I’d get depressed that there isn’t as much as I hoped there’d be and this cycle repeats endlessly, even into the millions.

This blog post was based on Good Strategies Bad Strategies by Richard P. Rumelt, I’d recommend you to read it if you’re interested in companies and strategies. Even if you aren’t in a managerial position, at least you know that your company is full of shit and isn’t a long term winner. Thus you can switch boats into one that’ll fly upwards instead of slowly driving itself into the ground. Perhaps it won’t happen in the first 10ish years, but it’ll occur eventually as more and more bullshit gets introduced with zero real world value.