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INSPIRED, 2nd Edition by Marty Cagan

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Product Objectives

Overview

I was extremely fortunate to have started my career at HP as an engineer during their heyday, when they were known as the industry's most successful and enduring example of consistent innovation and execution.

As part of HP's internal engineering management training program called The HP Way, I was introduced to a business objective–based system known as MBO—management by objectives.

Dave Packard claimed: “No [tool] has contributed more to Hewlett‐Packard's success. [MBO] is the antithesis of management by control.”

The MBO system was refined and improved at several companies over the years, most notably by the legendary Andy Grove at Intel. Today, the primary business objective management system we use is known as the OKR system—objectives and key results.

John Doerr brought the technique from Intel to a very young Google, and a couple decades after Dave Packard attributed much of HP's success to MBO, Larry Page said essentially the same thing about the importance of the OKR process on Google's success.

The concept is straightforward and based on two fundamental principles:

  1. The first can easily be summed up with the famous General George Patton quote I mentioned earlier: “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
  2. The second was captured by HP's tagline of that era: “When performance is measured by results.” The idea here is that you can release all the features you want, but if it ...

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