OKRs — Secrets to Success

Kyle Evans
Product by Design
Published in
14 min readDec 3, 2020

Many of us might not even remember Myspace at this point.

screenshot of myspace homepage

Amazingly, in 2008, not even that long ago, Myspace was the top social network platform. While Facebook was rapidly making progress, Twitter was still in its early days, and Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok were still just gleams in the eyes of their founders, Myspace was the place to go.

So what happened?

Like any story, it’s complex. But one key issue was a lack of product focus. Myspace didn’t know what it wanted to be. You can see that in the image above. Was it a place for friends? A place for music? A place for games or videos? It ended up being a place for everything, and it did none of it well.

Myspace didn’t have an obvious idea of what it wanted to be or accomplish, and could never decide on the best way to get there. That’s not surprising. If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s hard to figure out the best path. And within a few years, Facebook dominated social media. Which should never have happened. When you have an existing network, maintaining it should be the simple part. But they weren’t able to do that.

And the rest is history.

So how can we avoid becoming Myspace? The secret (or not-so-secret) ingredient is to define clearly what you are trying to do — within your company and within your product. Myspace didn’t fail for lack of experimenting, but for lack of clearly defining what they needed to do to be successful and then executing well on those things.

A great tool for avoiding this issue is OKRs. I’ve used OKRs in almost every team I’ve been in. There isn’t anything magical about an OKR itself, but the principles and the process make them extremely successful. So let’s take a closer look.

A Little OKR History

For those unfamiliar, OKR stands for Objective and Key Result. The objective is a high-level, aspirational goal you are trying to achieve, and the key results are how you are going to measure your success. That’s it. They are meant to be collaborative, open, and transparent. They are also meant to push you, your team, and your organization. So they’re not necessarily a good fit for every situation, but more on that soon.

Kyle Evans
Product by Design

Writer, podcaster & product leader. Woodworker & creator. Husband & father. Dog lover. Soccer fan. @kylelarryevans on twitter www.kylelarryevans.com