The ultimate guide to OKRs | Christina Wodtke (Stanford)

Published 2023-03-16
Christina Wodtke is an author, Stanford University professor, and speaker who teaches strategies for building high-performing teams. She’s also the author of Radical Focus, which some consider the de facto guide to OKRs. In today’s episode, we dive into OKRs and how they can be used to help your team achieve better results. Christina shares her expertise on crafting OKRs, how she uses them in her personal life, and common mistakes you should avoid when you sit down to write your own. She discusses effective goal setting and outlines a systematic approach to achieving key results. Finally, Christina gives some specific tips on how to improve your storytelling and drawing skills and explains why it’s smart to set ambitious goals.

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Find the full transcript here:…

Where to find Christina Wodtke:
• Twitter:
• LinkedIn:
• Website:

Where to find Lenny:
• Newsletter:
• Twitter:
• LinkedIn:

• Yahoo’s peanut butter memo:
• The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable:…
• Radical Focus: Achieving Your Most Important Goals with Objectives and Key Results:…
• Pencil Me In:…
• The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures:…
• The Minto Pyramid Principle:
• Lane Shackleton’s guest post on Lenny’s Newsletter:
• The Product Trio by Teresa Torres:
• Ken Norton’s website:
• The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth:…
• The Overstory:…
• Cloud Atlas:…
• Black Panther: Wakanda Forever:
• The Team That Managed Itself: A Story of Leadership:…

In this episode, we cover:
(00:00) Christina’s background
(04:54) How Christina uses OKRs to manage her personal life
(07:42) The purpose of OKRs
(16:15) Mission, vision, roadmaps, and OKRs
(20:57) How strategy ties in
(22:39) Why OKRs should be kept simple, and the ideal way to express key results
(23:45) The importance of customer satisfaction and why you need a qualitative researcher
(24:58) Common mistakes people make when writing OKRs
(26:14) An example of writing OKRs for an online magazine about interior design
(29:28) The importance of repetition
(33:17) The 5 whys
(36:40) Why you should start OKRs with your best multi-disciplinary team
(38:44) Christina’s book, Radical Focus
(40:26) The importance of storytelling and drawing (even badly!)
(43:21) Tips to become a better storyteller
(44:29) Using the Minto method for storytelling
(46:02) The cadence of OKRs and the importance of celebrations
(51:09) A different kind of approval process to get OKRs done more efficiently
(53:01) Why the focus on learning is more important than grading
(54:29) Why you should set ambitious goals
(57:47) Where to start
(1:00:48) The overemphasis of UX in product management education and the importance of business sense
(1:03:01) Advice for people seeking a career in product management
(1:05:44) Lightning round

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All Comments (10)
  • Jolie Adam
    Really enjoyed the casual chat and her manner of explaining things. One of the most helpful podcast episodes I've listened to and hands-down the best and simplest way to approach OKRs.
  • Super like this podcast. I was waiting for you to bring someone and talk about OKR and seeing this one added here just fulfilled my wish and also helped me gain a better understanding of OKRs. Thanks for all the great work you do and all the amazing folks you bring into this channel.
  • Tim Meinhardt
    Lenny, First time listener. i found this through an OKR thread. Christina is a breath of fresh air in this OKR world. There is so much mis and bad information about OKRs and her ability to cut through the noise and get to what is really important is her gift. She keeps its simple. Thank you Lenny & Christina!
  • Clemens Adolphs
    Bookmarked and liked. The book (Radical Focus) is great but I find when trying to get other people on board, it's often easier to send them to a video or talk rather than telling them "Go read Christina's book about it". Although I'm still telling everyone to "go read Christina's book about it" 😛
  • F1 David's Show
    Putting like before video starts. Incredible work you’re doing for community and definitely should have more subscribers
  • Clemens Adolphs
    On the question at 55:50 or so. Some sources suggest making a distinction between aspirational OKRs (where hitting 70% is already amazing) and committed OKRs (where you MUST hit 100). I think to remember from Radical Focus that Christina isn't a fan of that because it complicates things. Plus imho there's a good chance that these "must hit" goals come from business-as-usual, which shouldn't be part of the OKR process anyway. (Objective: Don't get arrested by the IRS, as measured by KR1: File and pay 100% of my income tax)
  • Hey Lenny, this was a nice one - bravo! I'd love you to do one episode around going scrappy and not perfect in order to find the PMF
  • Adam
    My favorite Christina Wodtke quote (not from this interview):
    "If you ship games that are not fun, they will end up in the desert with those E.T. cartridges."
  • Xavier
    Great podcast ! Could add the link of the email status template that you mentionned at 52:32 please ?