Stealth start-up Betterworks surfaced recently, and announced a series A venture round of $15.5 million from Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers. The company advocates what it is calling Goal Science, basically a structured approach to quantified work at scale.
The principles are based on the well-known notion of SMART goals — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (or timeboxed) — and carried forward as OKR’s: objectives and key results. OKR thinking started at Intel under Andy Grove in the 1980s. John Doerr, one of the partners at KPCB, worked at Intel at the time, and is one of the leading champions of the approach, which is a critical component of Betterworks Goal Science. Clearly, Doerr’s thinking has been an influence on Betterworks, just as he has on other companies, such as Google, where he has served on the Board of Directors since 1999. Notably, Lazlo Bock, Google’s head of People Operations serves on Betterworks’ advisory board.
BetterWorks CEO and Co-Founder Kris Duggan was motivated to start Betterworks when struggling with setting and sharing goals by Powerpoint and other tools, and he realized that software specifically organized around the social dimension of goal setting and tracking would be immensely helpful. Thus, Betterworks.
The company is running up against established companies like SAP and Workday, but those solutions aren’t as social as Betterworks, and are more of a tool for management and less of a tool for work.
The UI of the tool is clean and intuitive, from what I can see from the few screenshots I’ve seen. I plan to get a demo in the next weeks. Here’s an individual goal, including an activity stream of conversation about the goal and its status. Note the fact that this goal has multiple individuals involved, which captures the team nature of much of our work.
Below on the left is a dashboard showing a department’s aggregated goals, and the iPhone client showing mobile participation.
Duggan, perhaps more well-known as the founder and former CEO of Badgeville, has expanded his thinking about quantified work and work performance way beyond gamification. In a later post — once I’ve seen the demo and spoken to folks there — I will delve into the pillars of Goal Science in more detail.