Swapping Pragmatic Investment Plans for OKRs

For a number of years I’ve maintained what I call my Pragmatic Investment Plan (PiP). It’s a collection of things that ensure I have to invest at least a little time each quarter into my career and industry. While it’s always been somewhat aspirational, in that I don’t often complete everything, it does give me a little prod every now and again and stops me becoming too stagnant. My first few PiPs were done annually, but after I started seeing ever decreasing completed items I moved to quarterly and had a lot more success.

While I’ve been laid up with flu I’ve had time to think about some stuff and a brief review of the items on my recent PiPs shows a distinct lack of cohesion. It’s always been more focused on motion rather than progress, so I’ve decided to make a change for a quarter and try a different approach, using the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) format.

If you’re looking for a concise introduction to OKRs, Introduction to OKRs from O’Reilly is an excellent little read. In essence Objectives and Key Results is a framework / process for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes. It’s supposed to help with setting, communicating and monitoring quarterly goals and results. They seem quite handy for keeping the scope focused on the work that will provide the most value, which is what I’m looking for. So instead of my old PiPs, which have looked like this for the last 15 years:

A list of objectives from a previous PiP

I’ve decided to do 3 separate OKRs, each with their own objective, running for a month each. This should provide enough time to trial the approach, and allow a little tweaking and refinement, while being short enough that if it’s not working for me I can try something else. I’ve mocked up a small, slightly too vague example, based on the seemingly most common OKR format.

A 4 section OKR template with mock values

It’s been a decade and a half since I started using PiPs to keep myself honest and as my other commitments have grown I don’t have the time I used to for adhoc, exploratory, experimentation. I’m hoping this new approach will help focus my limited spare time a little more into providing more worth and progress over just motion. And if it doesn’t work? I can always go back.