Goal setting

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How it works

  1. Grace runs this process every three months.
  2. A couple of weeks before the end of the period, there is a meeting with all execs to come up with the objectives for each small team.
  3. They will then propose draft key results for every small team by creating PRs against the small team pages, and there will be 1/1s with every small team leader to discuss context and to make edits as needed.
  4. Each small team can change or propose alternate key results.
  5. After the end of the period, each team should run a retrospective on their goals that includes a numerical score for each Key Result and a short reflection on both the Key Results and the overall Objective. This should be made public and shared with the whole company by creating PRs against the small team pages.

Why we do this

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

Good goal setting

Use this template:

## March/June/September/December 202x goals
1. PostHog in the EU
Motivation: Unblock 1,000s of customers [link to data] who need to keep data in the EU but are not capable of self hosting.
Key results
- 100 customers using EU cloud
- 99% uptime
- Time spent maintaining < 1 hour/week
- Uses the same helm chart as US cloud
  • 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
  • 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
  • Key Results should be specific and measurable whenever possible

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, and try to avoid boolean (yes/no) Key Results

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.


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