An Excess of Access!

I recently heard a television executive report that between broadcast networks, cable, and streaming outlets there are over 400 scripted shows running in the U.S. right now. Over 400! How are we supposed to keep up with them? Every time I chat with friends a new show will surface in the conversation. “Have you seen….?” “No,” I’ll reply. “How about…..?” Again my inevitable answer is, “No.” How could I? There are over 400, and only so many hours in the day.

The frightening thing is that 400 seems like a reasonable number when you compare it to the literal avalanche of interesting books, articles, blog posts, etc., that are published daily, and scream for our attention. The OKR literature is certainly no different; it’s growing at a seemingly exponential rate making it difficult for even the most diligent among us to remain well-informed. So how do you keep up?

Purposeful Reading

The answer is to be more discriminating before, during, and after you read. Here are three tips to get you started:

  • Before you commit to reading something, challenge yourself to determine the purpose of doing so. “Why should I read this particular item right now? What information am I hoping to get from it?” The more specific you are when answering those questions the more likely you are to benefit from the actual reading. Dig deep to determine how reading it will help you with a current issue or challenge. I know what you’re thinking – reading is its own reward. And that’s true – to a point. However, given the mountains of material we all need to get through in the run of a day it pays, and is ultimately more rewarding, to only read what holds potential value for you.


  • If you’ve found something that passes the purpose test, be sure to keep that value in mind as you’re reading. In fact, you may want to actually write it on the first page to remind yourself why you’ve made this substantial investment. As you read, return to that statement of purpose frequently to put the material in context and ensure you’re getting as much out of the text as possible. Taking notes while reading will also pay extensive dividends in understanding and application. So says a compulsive note taker!


  • Apply what you’ve learned quickly. One of the best ways to do that is through a process Stephen Covey termed “Third Person Teaching.” Share what you read with others, conveying the key points and what you personally gained from them. Consider starting a book club or “lunch and learn” to discuss important topics and how they could be applied in your organization. This is particularly relevant with Objectives and Key Results. Many people are excited about the topic without really knowing that much about it beyond the fact that “Google uses it.” If you’ve invested the time and energy to learn more about the framework, share that with others to begin creating a level playing field of knowledge before your implementation begins.

I hope you find these tips helpful. I could say a lot more on the topic but I have to go…I just heard about a really good new TV show.

Paul Niven is President of, a Global OKR Coach, and author of Objectives & Key Results, Driving Focus, Alignment and Engagement with OKR.