Using KPIs to Manage a Crisis

Measure what Matters book cover

A Review of Measure What Matters by John Doerr

By Stephanie Weyrauch, DPT

The joy of christening a new decade and celebrating the twentieth year of business in our clinic was sharply truncated in March when COVID-19 hit Connecticut.

Like so many private practices across America, we scrambled to figure out how we would adjust to the pandemic.

During this turbulent time what we also needed, as individuals, were reliable and healthy outlets, particularly books. I consulted with friends and specifically asked for recommendations about books that explore the implementation of key performance indicators (KPIs). A large number endorsed Measure What Matters by John Doerr as an essential read on how to formulate and use the right metrics at the most opportune time.

Doerr’s name for KPIs is OKRs — Objectives and Key Results. He defines OKRs as a collaborative goal-setting protocol that best ensures everyone is focusing on the same issues and in pursuit of the same outcomes. Doerr blends informative writing, instruction, and storytelling to teach his readers about OKRs, a methodology which has been utilized by such prominent companies/organizations as Google, The Gates Foundation, and MyFitness Pal.

Doerr argues that good objectives are key to a company’s success, and that they must be not just concrete and action-oriented, but also inspirational. He defines key results as the benchmarks a team or company must meet to achieve the objective. These must be specific, time-bound, aggressive, measurable, and verifiable.

When COVID-19 emerged, I found OKRs useful in helping me think about my priorities, both as an employee and small “L” leader. I knew patient volume was going to drop, affecting our revenue stream. Questions arose, including: How can we help patients without putting the community at risk? We had to implement telehealth. Using the OKR system, I was able to clearly articulate how I thought we could urgently integrate telehealth. Over the next few days, my key results changed rapidly to be more realistic. That is the beauty of OKRs: they can be employee-driven and continually modified as needs change. When survival of our practice was at stake, we banded together and aligned our work to achieve the key results associated with our objective.

Objective: Our practice will survive COVID-19.

  • Key result 1: Increase social media marketing to patients regarding telehealth by 50%.
  • Key result 2: Physical therapists will contact five low-risk patients to see if they are interested in continuing PT via telehealth.
  • Key result 3: Perform three new evaluations each week via telehealth.

Doerr makes reference to a “North Star” — when all team members are aligned with a common objective and have a defined path in which to achieve it.

Doerr recommends OKRs be reviewed quarterly and outlines a scoring system to assist in maintaining accountability for assigned OKRs.

The final strength of OKRs is “Stretch Goals,” also referred to as Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG). These are meant to motivate, as they are extremely challenging to achieve and can have up to a 40% failure rate.

Our team continues to have conversations about the future. We remain steadfast in our OKRs and our determination to succeed. I found that Measure What Matters helped me think more clearly about a difficult situation and provided me with a framework (and hope) that as an employee, I could positively impact our practice.

Stephanie Weyrauch

Stephanie Weyrauch, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist at Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Centers in Orange, Connecticut. She is a member of the PPS Nominating Committee and can be reached at and on Twitter @TheSteph21.

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