All startups need to set goals for themselves, which is why it’s essential to have quarterly rocks that can
keep you on pace to achieve your goals. Unfortunately, not all startups are adept at setting up quarterly
rocks. They don’t always set rocks that are achievable or realistic. After all, there is a difference
between good quarterly rocks and bad quarterly rocks.
Startup coach Roland Siebelink begins to tackle this problem. He shares with listeners the four levels of
effectiveness for quarterly rocks and the 12 criteria for effective rocks.
How do you set the best quarterly rocks for your startup and
what are some great examples of good and bad quarterly rocks or OKRs for
midstage tech startups? Hello, I'm Roland Siebelink and I'm the founder and CEO
of the Midstage Institute. At the Midstage Institute, we help tech startups
cross the midstage faster and more effectively, and without falling into many of
the traps that we have lived before. As part of that, we have helped hundreds of
startups set new quarterly goals, often many quarters in a row. And so, we've
learned a thing or two about what makes these quarterly rocks or quarterly OKRs
the most effective. That's what I want to share with you in this series of
Today, we do an introduction and give a bit of an overview of what we're going
to be talking about. First, for context, let's just equate rocks with OKRs. I
know there's a lot of fundamentalist discussion in many tech startups - and
among many consultants as well - as exactly what is an OKR and how does it
differ from an objective or from a management goal and how does it differ from a
rock? But I think sometimes in that discussion, the essence of setting goals and
living up to them gets lost and we get too distracted by learning about the ins
and outs and all the intricacies of the terminology. I don't want to focus on
that in this series of videos; there's a time and a place for that, but it's not
here. Here, we're really just talking about what is the best way to set
quarterly goals for your company and to live up to them and hope that you
accomplish most of them.
Let's just start right off with an example of a great set of quarterly rocks. We
see four rocks here and I won't read through all of them - you can see them
right here in the video - but in this introduction, we want to start analyzing
why this would be a great set of quarterly rocks. And actually, as facilitators,
we like to ask you the question first. Why are these great rocks? Take a minute
and write down three or five reasons - studying this set of quarterly rocks -
why you think these are chosen as a set of great quarterly rocks? I'll give you
a minute and be back with you after that.
Okay. We are back. That was just a minute of writing down three to five reasons
why this is a great set of quarterly rocks. Of course, it's not always that easy
to just do this interactively in a video. I'll just list a few reasons here on
the slide why people like these rocks. I'm not going to read through all of
them, but I would say these nine are some of the reasons that people typically
say that they like these rocks. There's dimensions of clarity, dimensions of
conciseness, dimensions of inspiration, and you can see it all on this slide.
Now the framework we want to use in this set of videos about good and bad
examples of quarterly rocks and OKRs is a framework that consists of four levels
of effectiveness. We talk about the 12 criteria of effective rocks. And we
divide them up into four clusters. The individual rock effectiveness, that three
criteria. The rock set effectiveness, that's another three criteria. Rock
context effectiveness, another three criteria. And the last three criteria are
the effectiveness of the rock discipline.
As a quick introduction, I'm going to already lift the tip of the veil and say
what we're going to be talking about in the next videos. When we talk about
individual rock effectiveness, we will talk about having a desirable
deliverable, about a project, not a routine, that is the subject of the rock and
also something that is preferably cross-departmental rather than focused on a
specific function. Those are the three criteria we'll be applying in the
individual rock effectiveness.
In the rock set effectiveness, we look primarily for a set that consists of
maximum five. And then ideally, also only maximum one per core engine of the
company. I'm going to explain what that means. And finally, the fact that each
of these should target a really concerning part of the engine KPIs. For example,
driving up the overall sales number - what do you do in there in order to make a
notable difference in that sales number?
Third set is the rock context effectiveness. And here we look primarily at the
broader context in which these rocks are set and to which they are linked. One
is a link - loose coupling perhaps - to the longer term goals of the company
that should also be documented, of course. The core objectives and a core
identity and vision for the company - the permanent founding reasons for the
company - how can we link it to that? And finally, links to the scorecards of
the individual executives and other people in the company.
And the fourth cluster of effectiveness criteria is the rock discipline
effectiveness criteria. Here we look primarily at some drivers that make us more
effective in delivering these rocks or OKRs. And the three we highlight are the
fact that they should have separate owners- and I might highlight these owners
should not be the CEO. They should be broken down into intermediate goals. And
also, we should have a very clear follow-up cadence to understand exactly when
are we checking in on these rocks, when are we going to be talking about them,
seeing where we can course correct a little bit. And also, when is the next time
when we will be setting new rocks, presumably for the next quarter.
Going through all of these, we saw criteria for individual rock effectiveness,
criteria for the rock set effectiveness, criteria for the rock context
effectiveness, and the rock discipline effectiveness. And the question I would
ask you, my viewer, is to consider where you feel your startup falls short the
most. Is it in the individual rock criteria, the rock set criteria, the rock
context criteria, or the rock discipline criteria? Please rank these four
clusters in order of where you fall short to most to where you fall short the
least. And we'll give you 30 seconds to do so.
We hope that in this introduction, you've already gotten a high level-view of
what can make your quarterly rocks and your quarterly OKRs more effective at
your tech startup. We'll be sharing a lot more detailed learnings for each of
those sets of criteria in the coming videos. The next video focuses, first and
foremost, on the individual effectiveness of each rock.
We're looking forward to having you join that. If you want to get a ping when
that video comes out, please just subscribe on www dot mIdstage dot org slash
rocks. There'll be a sign up form there so that you can make sure you get this
in your email. Other than that, as I said, the Midstage Institute is there to
help startups cross the midstage. We focus on tech startups all around the
world. Please review our best practices, seek facilitation for your team, or
seek some coaching. If you want extra help with your tech startup, we are there
to make you successful. Thank you.
Roland Siebelink talks all things tech startup and bring you interviews with tech cofounders across the