Goal setting

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How it works

Every small team has:

  • As few Objectives as possible - ideally 1
  • Motivation - explains why the objective is set
  • Key Results that show if we're en route to achieving an Objective

Why we do this

  • Sense of winning / losing - this bonds teams, increases urgency and creates satisfaction when we achieve things
  • Clarifies our direction

When we do this

  • We do not do this for every team at the same time - if it takes a forced process to keep these up-to-date, and so people look at them, then the objectives aren't meaningful
  • It's up to the small team leaders to set a cadence for their own objectives and key results. Changes need to be communicated to James (who makes sure they stack up with each other properly)
  • Objectives should have a deadline

Good goal setting

  • Objectives are simple
  • Objectives are ambitious - they move the needle for PostHog
  • Hitting an Objective is more important than hitting any Key Results
  • Key Results show we're on track to hitting the Objectives - it should be simple to know if we hit them
  • Key Results are leading indicators and can be achieved quickly
  • Objectives and Key Results should be timebound

Bear the following in mind:

  • Don't fall into an existential crisis every time we do this exercise - while Objectives and Key Results are important, they're easy to change, so iterate if you need to
  • All Key Results are bad - they have many compromises, are fallible, easy to game, or may be affected by external factors, so use the least bad Key Results
  • Use counter metrics where needed (X happens, but Y shouldn't happen)
  • Don't have a lot of Key Results if you can't capture everything in one - just pick the most important one or two
  • Don't set arbitrary Key Results that a team cannot achieve
  • Don't set a Key Result that is mainly noise or a vanity metric

How to set goals

  • James H is accountable for this happening
  • Objectives are proposed by James H, supported by the Exec Team, and agreed by Small Teams
  • Key Results are set by each Small Team lead

Goal adoption

  • Exec team communicates the Objectives - 1-1 with each Small Team lead, an update to Objectives in the Handbook, and then an announcement in the next All Hands
  • Team leaders set Key Results
  • In All Hands, any significant improvement/worsening of our performance against Key Results / Objectives is explained by the relevant Small Team lead
  • Consistently hitting ambitious Objectives over the long term is an important factor in the pay review process, but if you miss extremely tough Objectives but still achieve great things en route, that's great
  • Objectives and Key Results can be changed - if a more impactful goal becomes obvious to you, suggest it as a PR


What if I don't have time to do work towards my OKRs because of X (X = customer support / urgent board reporting / something else)?

Picking up the occasional thing that isn't technically going to help your goal is ok. This is because we're small and may not set 100% perfect goals. As ever, prioritize as you see fit.

If my team repeatedly miss objectives, what happens?

Objectives should be ambitious but achievable - you should be able to hit them by challenging yourself, but not to the point of burnout.

If your team is consistently missing objectives, they are too hard or possibly the wrong objectives.