What are OKRs?
• OKRs are both a goal-setting tool and a management framework that will effectively synchronize the entire organization to strategically achieve its short-term and long-term goals.
• It bridges the gap between strategy and execution in the workforce to ensure a unified cadence of progress in the organization.
An Objective answers what needs to be achieved. The whole process usually starts with creating three to five high-level objectives at the organizational level. It will have a trickle-down effect with a clear structural alignment across the entire organization. Departments, teams and members of each team will also set their own objectives based on how they can help the company achieve its main objectives. Objectives are concrete, relevant and (typically) ambitious or inspirational to help organization members remember their most important priorities.
Key Results are the actionable requirements that will show “OUTCOMES” to achieve the objectives. They are signifiers that show that an objective has been achieved. Ideally, three to four measurable key results should be included under one objective.
• To be effective, a KR needs to be specific, measurable and time-bound, but also aggressive yet realistic.
• Everyone needs to easily see whether they have met each key result’s requirement or not. There are no grey areas and no room for doubt.
Tips for Writing OKRs and Examples
- Pick just three to five objectives.
- Avoid expressions that maintain the status quo and don’t push for new achievements.
- Use statements that convey the end goal.
- Use tangible and unambiguous terms.
For example, suppose your company’s main objective for the next quarter is to develop an excellent organizational reputation and improve the Customer Service Department. In that case, the objective should have elements to signify those goals:
Objective: Increase the organization’s reputation by improving overall Customer Service performance.
- Include around three key results per objective.
- Key results need to have measurable outcomes.
- Key results should accurately describe outcomes.
- Outcomes need to be readily available, credible and discoverable
Roll-Out Guide and Cadence
An OKR Example at Google:
Google Ventures partner Rick Klau shared insights from his presentation on How Google sets goals: OKRs. When Rick Klau was in charge of Blogger, one of its quarterly objectives was to improve its reputation. Here’s an example from one of his personal OKRs:
Objective: Improve Blogger’s reputation
• Re-establish Blogger’s leadership by speaking to at least three industry events
• Coordinate Blogger’s 10th anniversary PR efforts
• Reach out personally to Blogger’s users
• Fix DMCA process and eliminate music blog takedowns
Objective: Create a delightful customer experience for 2023
– Launch how-to webinars on January
– Increase daily visits per active user from A to B.
– Increase organic traffic from C to D.
Objective: Attract younger customers to visit the art museum.
– Increase enrollment of members under 30 years old by XX%.
– Partner with X Instagram influencers to increase mentions online.
– Attract XX non-members per month to visit live artist performances.
Roll-Out Guide & Cadence Recommendations
OKRs will set the strategy that will help the company achieve the goals they are trying to accomplish. Some teams often find it helpful to revisit OKRs a few times each quarter. Most companies run OKRs quarterly while some startups do them monthly. It can serve as a tool to help employees recalibrate their own objectives. It also allows them to adjust to new information, abandon objectives that are too aspirational and increase attention to other objectives that will benefit from additional information.
Here’s an example of an OKR setting timeline from Google:
OKR Don’ts to Remember
- Don’t start with OKRs- Start with the strategy tree and your leadership team.
- Don’t stop evolving your strategy – Strategy formation and evolution should never stop even while you’re executing your monthly and quarterly OKRs.
- Don’t just start saying, “We’re rolling out OKRs.” – OKRs are just one piece of the bigger picture. OKRs are brilliant for strategy execution. However, there is increasing confusion and misinformation on OKRs – especially from folks who only scratch the surface when learning something new.
- Don’t confuse OKRs with KPIs – When you see KPIs going off track, or when you think of new ideas for strategy or capabilities, that’s when you introduce OKRs – to get it done!
- Don’t roll out a single-use OKR app – Employees may feel like it’s just another tracking or accountability tool. As brilliant as OKRs are, execution will fade over time if employees feel that way
There are many OKRs in the market, but only one will connect your strategy and the actual work taking place in one app. #stratapp allows you to roll out your OKR implementation progressively. It is powered by org design so that you can add org design attributes to each objective and the key result. This allows you to filter the OKR dashboard by org design – so you can quickly view the progress of the company, your teams and the OKRs you own.
For example, you might want to share all or part of the strategy tree, but for the first two quarters, keep the OKR roll-out limited to the top 3 levels of management – until you get a better feel for the methodology and how best to apply it. Once again, the power of having org design built into #stratapp comes into play. You can easily turn on/off the different modules of #stratapp, selecting who can see what based on your org design.