Announcing the BetterWorks OKRs E-Book!

Objectives and Key Results are always on our minds here at BetterWorks. Many of our clients are passionate about OKRs, and we are obsessed with making our enterprise goal setting platform the best place for their OKRs. OKRs are a rare methodological bird, eliciting positive reactions from executives and individual contributors alike. We firmly believe they are one of the best ways to set goals for the enterprise, and we are hearing their name come up more and more.

OKRs are experiencing a major growth spurt. This surge in popularity has brought a lot of companies, friends, and former co-workers to our doorstep asking for advice on OKRs. We are always eager to share our insights on tips, tricks, and best practices. After receiving great compliments from those seeking out our advice, we realized we should be sharing our thoughts with everyone!

These great conversations were the spark for the BetterWorks OKRs e-book. Our collection of OKRs knowledge is expanding every day, and we wanted to pass along as much useful information to you as possible.  The e-book h…


Developer Note: Automated End-To-End Email QA

At BetterWorks, we are busy creating the platform for enterprise goal setting. One of our platform’s core features is notifications. These notifications come in different flavors, ranging from a cheer you’ve received to a contributor making progress towards your goal. The formats of the notifications are equally diverse, with some living within the app and others being sent through email. Email notifications are especially important because email is such a big part of the average workflow. In fact, "Email remains the center of business communication, with a high percentage of business information being stored in employee inboxes.”[1] Our notification emails and weekly planning digests continue to drive users back to our app, making it a high priority for quality assurance.

As a Simulation Software Engineer at BetterWorks, one of my main goals is to build solutions to automate quality assurance testing.  When I first started working 2 months ago, our dev team had a couple of manual processes that allow us to preview new emails before making them live within the app.  We used a third party service that allowed us to preview what our emails would look like in a variety of email clients. In order for an email to pass a product review, these…


Your Company’s Growth Will Stall. Can Goal Setting Help You Recover?

The average Fortune 500 company has a lifespan of 40-50 years, and it’s getting shorter. It’s inevitable that companies will eventually stall. As Clayton Christensen’s bestseller, The Innovator’s Dilemma, reveals “successful, outstanding companies can do everything ‘right’ and yet still lose their market leadership – or even fail – as new, unexpected competitors rise and take over the market.”

Consider the classic cases of Levi Strauss & Company in 2000 and Apple Computer in late 1996 before Steve Jobs rejoined the company as iCEO. Consider Blockbuster after the introduction of Netflix. In many examples of growth stalls, companies were well aware of new competitive threats. Yet despite being aware, these businesses did not have the organizational agility to overcome the obstacles. Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg state, “[Management’s job is] to create an environment resilient enough to take on those risks and tolerate the inevitable missteps.” Why are companies lifespans shortening?

Companies control their own destiny



How Google Works: My Biggest Takeaways

As part of a recent Q4 planning meeting, the BetterWorks executive team read and discussed Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg's new book, How Google Works, so we could incorporate elements of the book in our strategic planning. We are always exploring the best ways to drive operational excellence, and we think Google is a sterling example of goals driving a company forward. Google's goals are transparent, available to anyone in the company to view, managed on a quarterly cadence, and--most importantly--create alignment across the organization.  Without giving away too much of the book's content, here are the takeaways that resonated the most with our team:

Focus on creating and having the right goals. Find smart people who can reach them.
You should never be able to reverse engineer a company’s org chart from the design of its product.
Optimism is an essential ingredient for innovation.
A good plan should be something you're able to execute on time, but should also help you go above and beyond expectations.
You should default to open, not closed when it comes to communication. Larry Page stands up in front of all Googlers and shares how the c…


Startup Founders: Be Excellent

I speak with a lot of executives. Most of them ask a version of the same question: How can the right goal-setting system help my company execute better?

Some of these executives are the CEOs, COOs, or CHRO's of very large F1000 companies. They regard Silicon Valley-style goal setting techniques as a way to stay agile and innovative; in the words of one electronics manufacturing executive: "We want to move at 'Google speed.'" Others are the founders and leaders of young startup companies. These executives want to know the same thing, but for distinctly early-stage company reasons.

Maybe they just raised a big Series A or Series B round of financing and are hiring like crazy. Maybe they just merged with a rival and suddenly find themselves doubling in size across multiple locations. Or, maybe they simply realize that internal meetings, Excel spreadsheets, and Google Docs are just not going to cut it anymore. How do they continue to "crush it", i.e., execute at the highest level, now that they are no longer just a handful of really smart, motivated people with a shared vision. These founders have outgrown the chaos of early startup life, when passion, vision, and luck mattered most. Now, they seek discipline, repeatability, and a framework to help them scale.



Hello, My Name Is… How Peers Open Up New Opportunities for Employee Engagement

Team-building activities can be incredibly valuable to a business. They’re pressure-free opportunities for those of us working together to get to know each other personally, to build rapport. They give managers (and even execs) a chance to shower extra appreciation on individuals—and they reinforce company culture and values.

Together with colleagues, I’ve attended San Francisco Giants games and concerts. We’ve gone wine tasting and shared team BBQs. We’ve done charity work and community service. We’ve tried rally car racing and game nights, and I can honestly say, they’ve all been lots of fun.

But these types of extracurricular events for peers shouldn’t be the only drivers your business uses to engage employees because research shows that peer interaction at work is just as important.

Christopher Ellehuus, managing director of the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) Corporate Leadership Council, recently shared some key insights in a Business Strategy Review article titled “Peer Power” . He noted that creating a culture where employees are immersed fully in the business has three interconnected components: the organization, their manager, and their peers.

He explains, “Perhaps surprisingly, CEB data has revealed that more than a…

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