Investment Note

Making OKRs OK again: why we invested in Tability

Written by
Sam Henderson
On behalf of the Skalata Investment Team
“The old way of monitoring hours is obsolete - teams need clear goals and a straightforward method to track their progress.”
Sten Pittet
Co-founder & CEO

You know what gets in the way of company goals like nothing else?

Running the company.

You set out at the start of the quarter knowing exactly what you want to achieve, then life happens and you’re chasing bugs, reacting to setbacks, splitting focus, and before you know it… the lines you wanted to cross become dots to you.

It might not feel like it because a) it’s everywhere and b) since 2020, time has become a weird black hole, but goal tracking and project management SaaS is a relatively new space.

We’re still floundering to deploy it across the new office > home divide. 

And it’s still riddled with the problems of its infancy - from wildly overcomplicating OKRs to actually increasing workload to provoking outright hostility among teams. 

Of course, it’s often evangelically adored… by bosses. 

In Tability founder Sten’s words:

“OKRs and goal tracking are designed for leadership, but it doesn’t work unless you get buy-in from the team. We make Tability suitable for the team’s needs, so they like OKRs too.”

Tech leaders like Atlassian, Netflix, LinkedIn, and Asana, have already shifted towards goal-setting frameworks such as KPIs/OKRs to focus on outcomes rather than outputs. 

But the transition is cumbersome, the learning curve is steep, and the acronyms have attracted so much of a hate bandwagon it’s not even cool anymore. 

Replacing spreadsheets with software doesn’t improve productivity or outcomes unless - instead of attracting animosity - it drives engagement on the company’s lower rungs, among the teams ploughing through them every day.

Love goal-tracking or hate it, it’s not going away - especially as we’re not just goal tracking from office (GTFO) anymore.

The Tability team themselves are fully remote - having recently come together IRL for the first time since 2018. Bryan says:

“Many people were shocked to hear about how far we had come, but even more so that we'd been able to accomplish so much without working in the same place.” 

Something in the software must be working.

And the global performance and goal management market is growing at a rate of knots (17% CAGR to hit over $11 billion by 2031).

Here’s why we’ve invested in the next generation of BizOps SaaS, and why we think Tability is #goaltrackinggoals. 

Tability's AI goal tracking platform is already being used by teams at Google, Amazon, Shell and Autodesk.

Meet the problem

Goal tracking is now a non-negotiable in corporate life because: 

  1. Digital orgs are out of their “throwing s*** at the wall” era - they’re mature enough to know how to scale results-driven cultures
  2. The world operates on millions of data points that must be tracked, but are impossible to track by a single human brain or team.

The sheer dryness of those sentences is exactly why getting team buy-in is a struggle.

"The old way of monitoring hours is obsolete - teams need clear goals and a straightforward method to track their progress."

Tability has drilled down into this user-end problem, acknowledging the root of slipping goals and poor outcomes - human frustration.

Onboarding resources, demos, tutorials, and long form content are a huge part of the brand, much of it written (or Loomed) by Sten personally, breaking the fourth wall with content like “How to create OKRs your team won't hate” (complete with devil emojis 👹). 

There’s a sense that traditional frameworks only serve leadership - checklists for them to throw together, staff to churn through, and blame to be placed when a target gets missed. 

“From the perspective of a designer, developer, content writer… OKRs often feel like management has just found a new way of telling people what to do (but they do seem super excited about it for some reason). OKRs should be about focus - the more time is spent updating goals, the less time is left to achieve them.” 

How it came together

The inspiration for Tability (shorthand for ‘accountability’) was sparked when Sten worked under Scott Farquar as a PM at Atlassian. 

Scott asked Sten for the same set of metrics reports every Friday, along with an explanation of how they’d moved week-on-week. Staggered by the simplicity of this, and how it drove urgency, built trust, and kept the whole team accountable, Sten realised that maybe OKRs were… OK… after all.

Sten met co-founder/designer Bryan at Atlassian’s San Francisco hub. They bonded initially over basketball and later over shared values:

“One of our values is ‘develop superpowers’. We mean that individually and as a team. We don’t want to have a group of people that are all different versions of the same person. We all have very unique strengths, different cultures, and everyone brings a different perspective.”  

Meet the product

Tability allows orgs to cascade their goals. They can zoom out to the earth-moving vision behind their existence, or drill down into the daily tasks that work towards it. 

Within one interface, users can choose to view every quarter throughout the year, or every team throughout the org (e.g. Company OKRs > Product OKRs > Marketing Team OKRs), helping address the debilitating problem of siloing within companies.

Tability's Strategy Map enables users to track and connect goals across the entire org in a single view.

Naturally, Tability is an integration champion - playing well with data sources, other project management SaaS, and communication tools like Slack to remind team members about check-ins and send bosses progress alerts. 

A big priority for 2024 is depth of those integrations. One of the founders’ OKRs (practising what they preach) is: ‘make it possible to get data from any tools’.

Excitingly, Tability has already picked up some massive customer logos including Google, Amazon and Shell. And that list is growing every day.

Ability + agility

Tability doesn’t just enable efficiency. 

It learns what “efficiency” means to an org, then drives and replicates it. 

For managers without data management backgrounds (and individuals, and startup founders, and the cohort of upcoming Gen Z managers without formal corporate backgrounds), it takes the lead.

Tability's AI enables orgs to turn a broad vision into an actionable plan

Tability’s AI assistant Tabby suggests OKRs for you, self-generating back-end network effects. The more companies accept suggestions and input their own data, the better the AI gets at recommending future goals and priorities. 

That’s something no one else in the space is achieving. And customers love it - “AI-generated suggestions for how to tackle an objective was a great add, especially when you reach that writing block.”

Sten says:

"We realised early on that AI's potential was vast – not just for summarising information but for helping our customers articulate their strategies and focus on outcomes."

Tability is a powerful multi-purposer with niche AI capability - and because of that (and a shared addressable market with the likes of Asana, Notion, Trello, and Atlassian), we’re seeing vast potential for a heavy-hitting corporate SaaS challenger. 

Progress is never a straight line. But it shouldn’t be scattergun. Tability acts as the new “mission control” for organisations, setting up goal tracking with a smarter, friendlier angle, getting every team member to buy in (not just the bosses). 

Inspired by Tability's story?