The story of OKRs begins in 1954 when Peter Drucker, often regarded as the founder of modern management, published a book called The Practice of Management discussing the priorities of future managers. Among various matters, Drucker highlighted Management by Objectives, or MBO, to be a top priority. However, it was shown that objectives often ignored employee subjectivity and the elusiveness of motivation, assuming that company goals automatically aligned with the goals of its employees. Eventually, the term MBO became more or less obsolete.
It was until the year 1968 when Intel CEO Andy Grove took the idea of MBO one step further by coupling objectives with key results to the OKR framework as we know it today. From Grove’s perspective, key results play a key role in facilitating the achievement of one’s objectives - and to make that journey more objective.
And then in 1974, John Doerr, who later went on to become one of the first major Google investors, joined Intel and learned OKR during his time there. It was Doerr who then introduced OKR to Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who subsequently implemented OKR management philosophy at Google and they are still using this framework today.
Besides Google, today many dominant companies are using OKRs include Facebook, Netflix, Spotify, Gap, Lear, Deloitte, and Adobe. And in the words of Doerr: