What is “Objectives and Key Results” (OKRs)?

What is “Objectives and Key Results” (OKRs)?

OKR is a goal setting framework that helps to reach a vision (of a person or an organisation) in manageable steps with measurable goals.

Why do you need Objectives and Key Results?

OKRs make the rather abstract intangible vision and long term goals more tangible. Measurable goals track the process and tell if you’re on the right track.

How to apply Objectives and Key Results?

When you apply OKRs you should pay attention to following principles.

  • Ambitious – only by doing things where you feel a little uncomfortable you’ll grow
  • Measurable Outcomes & Lead Measures instead of “Activity Trap” and Lag Measures
  • Short Iterations – 1-4 months instead of 6-12 months
  • Participative – Top-Down | Bottom-Up | Sideways 
  • Collaborative Value Creation – cross teams instead of silos

Benefits of Objectives and Key Results?

  • Focus
  • Aligned Autonomy
  • Transparency
  • Track Progress
  • Employee Engagement

Don’ts

When you apply OKRs avoid making following mistakes:

  • Cascading strictly top down: Don’t make a KR of one person/team the Objectives of another person/team.
  • Using for performance reviews: decouple from compensations – avoid sandbagging. Only if people know that they won’t be judged by the results they can feel safe enough to write ambitious goals.
  • Writing individual OKRs: Team Members should be all aligned around their Team OKRs. If the team members have each their own individual OKRs they probably will prioritise those instead of working for overall value creation.
  • Using it as a TO DO list or Project Management: There are many other frameworks and tools to use for Task and Project Management. OKRs is not about the outputs you deliver but about the decisions you make which outcome you want to reach.
  • Dictating OKRs Top-Down: Only people who work on the Objectives and Key Results should be writing and planning them. Leadership should rather define the strategic focus and name the direction and inspire people to align around the vision and strategy.
  • Write goals and forget: Written down goals are worthless without execution. Meet weekly or bi-weekly or at least monthly to talk about your progress.

Objective

Qualitative & Ambitious

  • Where do I want to go? 
  • What do I want to achieve?

Example

Leadership Team understands the benefits of OKRs and involve their teams in strategic and tactical goal definition to improve their engagement.

Key Results

Quantitative & Measurable

  • How will I now I’m getting there?
  • When will I know if I’m there?

Examples

  1. 50% of all teams work with OKRs
  2. Team Health increases by 25%
  3. 50% of the employees see a direct connection of their contribution to company success

Initiatives

Things to do

  • Experiments
  • Features, etc.

Examples

  1. Organise OKR trainings
  2. Facilitate the OKR Workshops
  3. Collect feedback via employee interviews

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