Dan and Steve


What does the title mean? Milestones, Meetings, and Mentors

This class is about YOUR project. More than usual, my teaching motto holds true here:

In the final analysis each student is responsible for her/his own education.

But that does not mean you are simply left to your own devices, here's the keys, see you in May, call me if you need anything. We DO want to give you an enormous amount of room, time, freedom, freedom to search, to flounder, to get lost, to make mistakes, to bark up wrong trees.

But as teachers we have a responsibility to help you make the utter most of this opportunity and we know from a lot of years of experiences that the secret way to do that is to create a healthy dialectic of structure and agency.

You can think of structure as the constraining part and agency as the energetic and creative part, but I prefer to think of structure as INFRAstructure. It's the set of tools that lets us do other stuff. We build infra structural tools - everything from agreements that we'll show up to class and meeting on time to committing to not surfing the web and texting to other folks when we are having a meeting to signing on to a protocol for how we will share documents or how quickly we will turn things around when our colleagues ask for feedback.

The point is, that the stuff we are going to mention today that sounds like rules of the road are not there to get in your way, they are there so we can drive faster.

Explain this whole OKR thing.

Objectives and Key Results

Objectives and Key Results is a common methodology for connecting individuals’ work with team and company goals. It is used in both established companies and startups. OKRs help clarify expectations so that individuals know they're working on the right things.

Implementations vary but the basic idea is that at the start of a time period (in industry it’s often the quarter) teams or individuals and their project managers set out a set of 3 to 5 objectives - outcomes, things one wants to accomplish, for example:

  • Put humans on Mars by 2025
  • Grow the company to make it an acquisition target
  • Position ourselves to be able to sign a contract with an overseas fabricator
  • Discover at a sustainable business model for our product
  • Rebrand our endeavor
  • Create the best doctor’s visit experience in the land

Objectives are formulated in such a way that everyone can easily say “yes, this is something we are trying to do” or not. They are answers to the big picture question: “what are we doing here?”

Objectives may be audacious but they have to be real.

For each objective, we articulate concrete accomplishments that are “on the way” to the objective. Key results are measurable, observable outputs that indicate progress on the path to the objective.

  • Build a crew module that can sustain 1500 person-days of space travel and back
  • Take net revenue to $10million
  • Get financing and/or orders for 5000 units
  • Full what-if analyses of six alternative business models
  • Generate 100 tag lines
  • Test scenarios until we see NPS of 75.

Key results are agreed upon metrics that allow us to assess and communicate progress and success and recognize and diagnose missteps and failure.

Key results must be observable and in principle measurable at least to the degree that student and advisor can agree that a goal was, for example, about 70% met.

OKRs in the Garage

Each student or team will mostly set its own objectives and key results. These individualized OKRs will be supplemented by a few generic ones at various points in the semester.

The time period for Garage Experience OKRs will be the five phases into which we will divide the semester.

  1. Startup - weeks 1,2
  2. The Problem Version 0.2 - weeks 3, 4, 5
  3. Deliverable Zero - weeks 6, 7, 8, 9
  4. Bell Laps - weeks 10, 11, 12, 13
  5. December - weeks 14, 15

Here are the OKRs for phase 1: