∞β

I am a product in infinite beta

Category: Product Development

Sample OGSM table

Startups Should Stop Using OKRs and Shift to OGSMs

There’s a trend in the tech industry toward OKRs for goal alignment. And while OKRs are good, they’re not great. They try to skip directly from objectives to results and don’t flow downward into the organization well. OKRs are helpful but could be better.

The OGSM model is copped from the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. (You know, little companies like P&G, Johnson & Johnson, Gillette, etc.) Here’s how it works:

OGSM = Objectives + Goals +Strategies +Measures

The “What”

Objectives (words)

What do you want to achieve? This is your objective. Here are some examples:

  • double monthly active users (MAU)
  • get funded
  • launch our prototype

Goals (numbers)

Goals are how you measure your progress toward the objective.

  • 2 Million MAU by January 1, 2018
  • $6 Million in funding
  • prototype in app store and >50 users

The “How”

Strategies (words)

Your strategies articulate how you’ll achieve your goals.

  • triple traffic to our website
  • double conversion rate (CR)
  • make multiple versions of our pitch deck
  • run pitch deck design by our angel investors and get feedback/concerns
  • set up meetings with VCs
  • build pre-launch landing page to collect emails
  • set up iTunes Connect and Google Play Publisher accounts

Measures (numbers)

How will you know when you’ve achieved your goals?

  • 3,000 weekly unique visitors to our site
  • 6% conversion rate
  • 3 versions of our pitch deck that we can test
  • 5 meetings with our angels to get deck feedback
  • >20 VC meetings scheduled
  • >500 unique visitors to our pre-launch landing page
  • iTunes Connect & Google Play accounts set up (yes/no)

Next Steps

This is where the “official” OGSM model stops but we can take it a little further. The next natural step is to determine the tactics or “levers” you can pull to hit the measures above.

Tactics / Levers

This is where the rubber really hits the road. The words → numbers approach is perfect for applying the business’ top-level objectives into the deeper levels of the organization. For example, the CMO’s Strategy (e.g., “triple traffic to our website”) becomes the digital marketer’s Objective. She can then create her own more granular OGSM model from there and determine the levers she wants to pull to reach it (e.g., PPC ads, social media marketing, content marketing, etc.).

What It Looks Like

Sample OGSM table

A quick and dirty example of how an OGSM might look for a software startup.

OGSM aligns everyone’s priorities toward the same high-level business objectives. Everyone within the organization has a clear perspective of how their day-to-day work rolls up to the larger company objective.


Was this helpful for you? Are you using a version of this at your company? How has it worked for you? Any suggestions for improvement? Add a comment below with your thoughts.

Thanks For Your Suggestion

I’d like to share a powerful phrase that will help you set clearer priorities in your life and permanently improve your interactions with the people around you. It will make you a better a better friend, a better father or mother, a better sister or brother, a better son or daughter. It will make you a better employee.

It goes like this:

Hmm, interesting idea. We’ll take it into consideration when we make our decision.

The exact wording isn’t critical. It’s what it communicates that’s important.

A Little Background

When my wife and I first got married we discovered, as everyone does, that coordinating two independent schedules can be very tricky. There seemed to be an undending barrage of conflicting demands:

Can you come for dinner on Sunday?
Could you work some extra hours this weekend?
This seminar is required for your major.
Are you coming for Thanksgiving dinner?
Will you be here on Christmas morning?
You should come trick-or-treating with us!
You shouldn’t let your kids eat…
You shouldn’t let you kids watch TV.
You should deliver you kids at home.
You shouldn’t vaccinate.
And on, and on.

Learning to manage all of these requests wasn’t easy. It still isn’t. We’ve been married for over 11 years now and the number of requests has only grown. We’ve stumbled many times (sorry again everyone) and we’re still not perfect at it. But we feel that this powerful philosophy has made our marriage much happier. It’s our little “secret weapon”.

Here how we usually say it.

Thanks for your suggestion. We’ll consider it when we make our decision.

How It Works

When you say this to someone, it communicates a few things:

  1. “Interesting idea” or “Thanks for your suggestion” Your idea is simply that, an idea. A suggestion. It’s not a requirement. We’re not obligated to just comply. It’s an idea. It’s interesting. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just an opinion. No matter how strongly worded the original statement, it’s just another idea.
  2. “We will take it into consideration…” We genuinely appreciate your opinion and hope you keep sharing it with us. Although we’re not ready to make a decision right now, we value your thoughts and will consider them.
  3. “… when we make our decision.” This is the most important one. It emphasizes that it’s our decision, nobody else’s. No one else fully understands the varied demands for our time and attention, our interests, or our priorities. We’ll make the decision together. I don’t commit to anything important until I’ve had a chance to sync with my wife first.

This means that often end up saying, “Thank you but not this time.” Maybe it’s because we have another commitment. Maybe we have something that’s a higher priority. But at the end of the day, we don’t owe anyone else an explanation. We work together and make the best decision we can with the information available to us.

How It Helps with Product Management

About 5 years ago, I began to make a career change to Product Management. And while I believe that this phrase is valuable in any profession, it’s been particularly useful for me as a Product Manager.

A Product Manager’s entire job consists of receiving ideas/suggestions/feedback and making prioritization decisions. There’s no end to the number of people who want to chime in and offer their 2¢ about how the product should work, what features it should have, why it should be this way or that way.

Customers want this. Competitors have that. Coworkers need something else. And that’s just fine. When you’re developing a product, everyone is welcome to his or her opinion and I’m happy to collect them all.

But at the end of the day, I’m the one responsible for making sure the product succeeds. Our customers don’t fully understand our long term vision. Our competitors don’t share out business model. My coworkers aren’t intimately familiar with our technical constraints. In the end, a small group of people needs to make the best decision possible with the limited information available.

For everything else? Thanks for your suggestion. We’ll consider it when we make our decision.

In Defense of the MVP

Most people misunderstand the concept of a “Minimum Viable Product”. They get distracted by the word “minimum” and forget that it also requires the product to be “viable”. This graphic sums up the difference nicely.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén