What do iconic fictional villains have in common? They always lose in the end. In our Villains of OKR series we will analyze the mistakes in their strategy execution and learn from their failures through an OKRs lens.
“This s***’s chess, it ain’t checkers.”
– Alonzo Harris, Training Day
Corrupt Los Angeles narcotics detective
Pay off debt to Russian gangsters
A Russian gangster mouthed off to Alonzo in Las Vegas. Alonzo lost his temper and beat the man to death. The gangster’s bosses made him a deal. Pay $1 million by midnight or be hunted down and killed.
Ask judges for a warrant to search Roger’s house
Storm Roger’s house and steal $1M
Kill Roger and stage it to make it appear justifiable in a report
Drug partner, Jake Hoyt
(Deadline: on the day Roger’s house is searched)
Kill Jake Hoyt
Alonzo achieved 80% progress on his OKR. He was unable to achieve his objective.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. In Alonzo’s world, the lines between narcotics detectives and drug lords are blurred. Alonzo appears more stereotypical gangster than cop. He uses questionable tactics to keep order in his jurisdiction and justifies his “bad cop” execution as long as criminals get arrested.
On this particular day,
, he takes on a new rookie partner, Detective Jake Hoyt.
At one point during the film, Alonzo says to Jake, “It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.” Alonzo highlights an important and maybe not-so-obvious OKR lesson here. In the world of OKRs, we focus on outcomes.
The proof for an OKR owner is found in the measures.
It’s not about what we know, it’s about what we do
, and how that translates into results
. Data is irrefutable. We define our goals upfront and identify the measures we’ll track.
When we reflect on them, we can know if we’ve succeeded or failed. Measures are part of what make this simple framework so powerful. It leaves no room for quibbling.
Consider Alonzo’s OKR. After successfully accomplishing KR 1-4, he left KR 5 — kill Jake Hoyt — for a gang to accomplish. Earlier in the day, Hoyt saves a woman from being sexually assaulted, a loose end that nips Alonzo’s plans at the last minute.
In the scene where Hoyt is about to be killed by the gang, they find a wallet on his body. They recognize it belongs to their female cousin. When they call her to verify and discover Hoyt was telling the truth — Hoyt begging for his life, claiming he saved her from the assault — they decide to release him.
KRs must be meaningful for the folks responsible for driving the objective.
“The way that you arrive at an objective has to be a process that ensures that it is meaningful for the folks responsible for driving that objective. Because if it’s not meaningful for the folks that are responsible for driving that objective, then of course they’re not going to care very much about reporting about it. Of course they’re not going to be engaged with it because it is artificial.”
— Blake Thomas, the Director of Engineering at NoRedInk, Dreams with Deadlines, Episode 5: Create high five situations
Alonzo arrived at the objective without this gang’s input. The gang was responsible for KR 5. To them, KR 5 was artificial. Showing mercy to the man who saved their cousin’s life was more meaningful so they relinquished responsibility.
In the end, Hoyt is unable to arrest Alonzo, but takes the $1M and leaves Alonzo without means to pay off the Russian mafia.
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In this blog series, we will be looking at the potential return on investment from implementing Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). Across 5 articles we will look a how the different characteristics of OKRs drive return on investment (ROI). In this second article, we will review how measurement drives performance.
The question shouldn’t be, “Was Jerry successful with his OKR?” but “Is Jerry Mouse successful as a lovable cartoon character that has tickled funny bones for decades or as a fun-sized sadist that brings a humorous twist to physical and psychological torture?”