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A closer look at Snap Inc.’s goals for 2019

8th February 2019 · 5 min read

A closer look at Snap Inc.’s goals for 2019

Snap Inc stock (SNAP) is trading at an all-time low. Snap’s CEO Evan Spiegel, who is known to be relatively quiet (both internally and externally) sent a 15-page memo to all Snap employees late 2018.

In the memo Evan Spiegel reveals the goals for 2019 and also reveals why they decided to introduce OKR in 2018: “We improved goal-setting across our teams with OKR processes that provide share visibility into the progress we are making against our priorities. We learned how to focus and execute together as a team. We moved like a cheetah.”.

Snap’s share price has risen ever since the memo became public. In this blog post, we’ll review Snap’s goals and OKRs for 2019.

Snap Inc Stock Price

Snap’s Goals for 2019

“Invest in the root if you want the fruit”

2019 Strategic Priorities

  • Deliver our Core Product Value
  • Widen our Moat
  • Operate as Owners
  • Invest in the Future
  • Be a Force for Good

2019 OKRs

  • Make Snapchat the Fastest Way to Communicate
  • Find Best Friends for all Snapchatters
  • Achieve Full Year Profitability
  • Lead the Way in Augmented Reality
  • Spread Positivity

 

Review of Snap’s 2019 Goals

First of all, it looks like Spiegel decided to theme the year “Invest in the root if you want the fruit”. This theme is not a goal, but it does help everyone to understand the main focus for 2019.

Adding context

At the end of his memo, he explains why this should be the main theme: “Snapchat was built to be the fastest way to communicate, and delivering our core product value is what has allowed us to innovate in many value-add areas like Stories, Memories, Maps and more. As we’ve grown so rapidly over the past 7 years, we have occasionally confused our value-add services for our core product value. That might be because we generate revenue from our value-add services rather than our core product value, or it might be as a result of a powerful media narrative that has tried to lump us in the rest of social media – or even our own excitement around innovating beyond our core. Whatever the reason, it is imperative that we deliver our core product value and do a better job differentiating Snapchat by communicating that value to new users.

Having grown quickly from 40 to over 3000 employees in less than 4 years, Spiegel doesn’t get to talk to each employee individually anymore. Therefore, I think it’s absolutely amazing that Spiegel goes to great length to add that level of context, which really helps his team understand the reasoning behind it. He does not only do that for the 2019 theme, he does that also for each 2019 Strategic Priority and 2019 OKR!

At Perdoo, we recognize the importance of this as well, which is why we recommend our users to always explain for each Objective why the Objective should have priority. You can do that simply by explaining why the Objective is important, and why it’s urgent (and store the answers on the Objective).

2019 Strategic Priorities

What I don’t understand is why Spiegel differentiates between 2019 Strategic Priorities and 2019 OKRs. A lot of people working with business goals use the terms “priorities” and “OKRs” interchangeably. Once you have finalized your 2019 OKRs, you have basically established your priorities for 2019.

I do understand the value of working with Strategic OKRs, I recommend every organization working with OKR to use them. For most organizations, however, Strategic OKRs (or Strategic Priorities) require a time span of 3-5 years, simply because most strategies take several years to implement.

Snap’s 2019 Strategic Priorities

  • Deliver our Core Product Value
  • Widen our Moat
  • Operate as Owners
  • Invest in the Future
  • Be a Force for Good

Looking at Snap’s 2019 Strategic Priorities, these also look like multi-year ambitions (you would have to read his explanation for each Strategic Priority in his memo to see that). I’d recommend Spiegel to set these up as Strategic OKRs, so that you can see over time how different years have helped you deliver that strategy. To widen their moat, Spiegel wants to make sure that Snapchatters can find their close friends, in 2020 he may want Snap to focus on something else to further widen the moat.

If Spiegel’s plans are different and operating as owners and investing in the future are not part of a multi-year plan, then I think that structuring his plans this way (i.e. splitting it up in Strategic Priorities and OKRs) is only adding unnecessary complexity. He could simply explain for the 2019 OKR to Make Snapchat the Fastest Way to Communicate that this is important to deliver the core product value.

When it comes to goals, less is usually more.

2019 OKRs

In his memo, Spiegel shares (what I assume are) the Company Objectives for Snap for 2019. Obviously, it’s hard to evaluate the 2019 Objectives without being able to see the Key Results (the memo only shares the Objectives).

Nonetheless, overall Spiegel’s Objectives look good. It’s really important that Objectives are obtainable within the timeframe they are set for. A lot of organizations struggle to get the scope of an Objective right. They create annual Company Objectives that are clearly not achievable within a year, but they then narrow the scope of the Key Results so that it is achievable. This means that you’ll have the same Objective every year, only the Key Results change. It also means that the Objective is not accurately capturing that the ambition for that year will be, which is why this should be avoided at all times.

2019 OKRs

  • Make Snapchat the Fastest Way to Communicate
  • Find Best Friends for all Snapchatters
  • Achieve Full Year Profitability
  • Lead the Way in Augmented Reality
  • Spread Positivity

Being an outsider to Snap, it’s hard if not impossible to evaluate whether the Objectives are indeed obtainable within 2019. Nonetheless, reading his explanations for each Objective, the first 4 Objectives (Make Snapchat the Fastest Way to Communicate, Find Best Friends for all Snapchatters, Achieve Full Year Profitability, Lead the Way in Augmented Reality) all seem to meet that criteria.

The 5th Objectives, Spread Positivity, looks like something that Snap will always be working on. Unless Spiegel plans to make specific improvement in this area, I’d recommend him to create a Company KPI for this.

You could argue that the 3rd Objective contains a metric (full year profitability) and is binary (you either achieve that or you don’t), which wouldn’t make this a great Objective. However, for an organization like Snap achieving full year profitability can be quite technical and they may need several Key Results to accurately measure progress towards that Objective. In other words, I think this is acceptable in their case.

Conclusion

Overall, I think Spiegel and Snap do a pretty good job at goal-setting. I think it’s great that Spiegel not only shares the goals company-wide, he also gives everyone an insight into his reasoning behind it. If I were Spiegel, I would stop working with 2019 Strategic Priorities and set these up as a proper multi-year strategy instead. I would remove the 2019 Company Objective Spread Positivity and use a Company KPI for this instead.

 

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