Joakim Achrén is the Founder and CEO of Elite Game Developers, a Helsinki-based company that helps gaming entrepreneurs in starting their first games company.
After reading up on Measure What Matters by John Doerr, I wanted to look into how OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) could be used as a tool for coming up with a plan for Elite Game Developers and what I’d want to achieve in 2020.
Many companies use ORKs on a quarterly basis so that they can measure the objective and move quickly to new objectives. A quarter fits well into the mobile and web applications space, as three months is a great time box for getting a game out in soft launch.
Here are the constructs for an OKR:
Objective: What is the goal for the quarter?
Key results: What metrics to follow, to determine if the objective is being achieved?
Plan: What are the weekly initiatives?
I’ve been thinking about the potential objective of Q1 a lot. I wanted to use some questions to help me come up with the right objective:
- Does the objective help to achieve company goals? I have stated that the mission of Elite Game Developers is to help gaming entrepreneurs not to struggle in their efforts in building successful games companies. The objective of the quarter needs to help me achieve this mission.
- Is the objective inspiring? I want to take Elite Game Developers into a direction where the mission can be fulfilled.
- Does the objective move the company forward? I believe that if the mission is to help gaming entrepreneurs not to struggle, the vision is to achieve a games industry where entrepreneurs can rely on proven tools and methods to create lasting and successful games companies. The objective should support the mission and move the company towards the vision.
Also, I want to push myself to create better content for the podcast listeners and for the readers of my blog articles. Here are a few key points I need to think about when setting the objective:
- The objective should not be easy. I feel that if I only do something that is easy to achieve, I won’t really put the effort into the process. I need to have a stretch goal in place, it needs to be big enough that it feels almost impossible to achieve. When using OKRs, you should be pushing yourself, so I need to make it hard.
- Objectives are aspirational goals, not projects with subtasks. I don’t want to have an objective in place with is just something like “publish 20 articles during Q1” as it doesn’t measure on an aspirational scale. I won’t feel proud. It’s not lasting and doesn’t push to company forward on its mission.
After I’ve chosen the objective, I’ll need to work on the key results for achieving the objective. Key results can be formed by answering the following questions:
- Key results are specific and quantifiable. This means that the objective should be something that can be measured. The key result should state what is measured and what is an accepted value. Something like “Achieve 20,000 reads for all articles during Q1”, or “Gain 2,000 new email subscribers, but keep the open rate above 50%”
- Should be clear on how it contributes to the objective. Since the objective is derived from the company mission, the key results need to find their way into contributing towards the objective and then to the mission. The more people read articles, the more the ideas are spreading. The more email subscribers, the better the reach of the ideas.
The OKR for Elite Game Developers
There will be a premium online course launching on April 1st of 2020, with the working title “Games Company Identity” where you will be instructed to become a more capable founder and entrepreneur, as you work with your co-founders to build a solid identity for your games company.
Some of the topics that the “Games Company Identity” online course will cover include:
- Why does your games company need to exist? What need are your addressing in the games market? Is it something that you can find alignment with your co-founders, your present and future staff, and your players?
- The odds are against founders, as only 1 out of 10 startups become successful. The only way to beat the odds is to become a learning machine. How do you learn from your actions? What can you study, and how do you study better? How can you unlearn old knowledge when new knowledge is revealed? How do you get everyone on the team to be curious about the details of game development? How to take feedback and use it effectively?
- The previous two topics, “Purpose” and “Growth Mindset” are integral in constructing a company culture. How does this culture keep people together even in hard times? How should the employer-employee relationship be structured?
- How do you find time to build the company when you’re building a game? How is leading by example meant to be used? How do you uphold what you’ve built?
I want to derive an OKR from creating and launching the online course on the first day of April. This means that the course needs to be built by the end of March. But that’s not the right way to look at an OKR. It’s a time box, but not an aspirational goal.
The correct way to structure this as an OKR would be to:
Objective: Start a premium online course
- Interview 40 entrepreneurs on what they think about the ideas for an online course on company identity
- Build the online course with 4 modules, with lecture videos, weekly feedback webinars, and a student community
- Get 20 people to purchase the course before the end of the quarter
Why an OKR is important
It’s been a week since I wrote the OKR for “Start a premium online course”. I have already managed to create vast amounts of focus on my work. I’m putting effort into the key results, and have been interviewing people.
I’ve also managed to drop loads of tasks from my calendar that aren’t driving me towards the objective of “Start a premium online course”. I’m still writing articles on building games companies and I’m still interviewing people for the podcast, but everything else is on hold. Besides the book project, which is ready and the publishing has been outsourced. You’ll hear more about the book soon.
Have you used OKRs in your business, for making games or for building companies? Let me know in the comments section.
If you want to keep up-to-date on the company identity online course, please subscribe to my mailing list by clicking below, or visiting https://elitegamedevelopers.com