The need for the Four Square
Until now, teams setting goals with OKRS have had no simple way to focus.
Based on coaching I’ve done with teams, I’ve found the right side of the Four Square to be the most powerful for two major reasons.
1. Top Right: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) Confidence
OKRs represent a significant departure from previous goal-setting frameworks in that they pair a qualitative, aspirational statement (the Objective) with measurable indicators of success towards that goal (the Key Results). On a weekly basis, in a quick, non-scientific way, the team measures their confidence in achieving each Key Result, on a scale from 0–10:
- OKR Confidence (The higher-level moonshot “why” behind the work)
- Objective: Become the iconic rebel of online whiskey purveyors
- KR: Increase whiskey club membership retention from 40% to 80% — 5/10
- KR: Increase organic referrals from 10 to 30 per month — 7/10
- KR: Increase Average Revenue Per User from $30 to $60–4/10
The team uses this reflection to discuss how to get back on track if things start slipping, or how to keep them on track throughout the quarter. It’s always amazing to watch teams make major pivots after rating KR confidence.
2. Bottom Right: Health Metrics
Health metrics represent the 1–3 things the team needs to pay attention to while reaching for their OKRs.
It’s crucial there be few, and carefully-chosen. Team health, Client Satisfaction, Code health- There aren’t too many metrics that fundamentaly matter to team and business health. Right after tracking KR confidence, the team similarly goes through the Health Metrics in a brief, informal and conversational way, rating each on a simple Red-Yellow-Green scale:
- Health Metrics (What to watch out for as we strive for our OKRs)
- Customer Satisfaction — Green
- Team Health — Yellow
- Daily Active Users — Yellow
Monitoring Health while reaching for OKRs provides the crucial link.
How the two dimensions relate: Push and Protect
In the push to achieve great things, teams must protect what matters.
Achieving great goals at the expense of fundamental health metrics like team, code, or business viability is an illusion — success will be temporary, at best. And when a Health Metric turns Red, it’s time for the entire team to stop work against the OKRs, and shift to addressing the metric at risk. Once that Health metric is green again, the team can go back to the OKRs.
Health Metrics can even become KRs until the team has them under control.
The Four Square, combined with the regular check-in cadence, provides teams a simple and powerful way to stay on track for long-term success.
Going deeper into the Four Square
This is Part 2 in a series:
Wodtke, Christina. Radical Focus SECOND EDITION: Achieving Your Most Important Goals with Objectives and Key Results (Empowered Teams) (pp. 123–125). Cucina Media, LLC. Kindle Edition.
Added link to Part 1 in this series.
Added link to Part 3 in this series.