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September 1, 2020

Measure What Matters to Get into Medical School: Engaging Your ‘A’ Game


  Adapted from John Doerr’s book entitled ‘Measure What Matters’


There are several ways to keep you on track toward accomplishing  your goals. Some simply develop goals. Others define their mission of today and vision of tomorrow. A more comprehensive approach is to add an annual strategic plan, quarterly objectives and key results and lastly day and weekly tasks. Why should anyone spend time on these time-consuming parameters? Why not just get started working? The reason is that staying organized on the frontend, provides direction, important feedback and increases the probability of achieving the mission, the vision, the objectives, the key results on the back end. Nice goals are great. But success is in the execution. If an Ivy League or premier college is in your future, you can depend on luck, or you can depend on an evidence-based, world-class methods. The choice is yours.


John Doerr developed the OKR Goal-Setting system in the 1990’s at Intel and later taught it to Google. The system is based on Objectives, what you want to achieve within three months, and Key Results, how you are going to achieve them. The process is simple, three easy steps:


  1. An Audacious Objective
  2. Quality and Quantity Key Results
  3. Color – Coded System


  • Audacious Objective
    • If you set an impossible goal such as traveling to the Andromeda Galaxy, this requires an idealistic, not a realistic goal. Doerr suggests that your initial goal be impossible. Then dial it back one step to make it Audacious, that is, extremely challenging, yet possible.
    • To set an audacious goal, ask yourself, “if I were free of restraints, what challenging project would you attempt? Or if I could be the best at anything, what would it be?”
    • Your dream should be big enough to inspire you, but be believable & attainable.


  • Quality and Quantity Key Results
    • Developing and measuring Key Results are specific and measurable and will indicate how close you are getting to your objective
    • You need quantity measures such as I will study for the SAT exam 4 days per week, two hours per day.
    • Another quantity metric might be to sleep at least 7 hours per night.
    • A quality Key Result could be taking weekly practice tests to raise my practice score from 680 to 750 by June 22.
    • Another quality Key Result might be place data on excel spreadsheet and review weekly and to chart trends.


  • Color-Coded Systems
    • Larry Paige, the co-founder of Google, says that “Good ideas with great execution are how you make magic.” The reason being that when your goals are just beyond your comfort zone, you transform as your talent grows because you develop new skills, faster and better than when your  challenges are merely comfortable.
    • Each week, month or quarter, you label each key result as green, yellow or red.
      • Green (70 – 100% on target) : Continue
      • Yellow (30-70% on target) : Recovery Plan needed
      • Red (0-30% on target). Recovery Plan needed or Replace the Key Result
    • Take Home Message
      • By utilizing the color-coded system, you are held accountable for both setting challenging goals and making progress on your goals.


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