OKRs (Objective and Key Results) are a powerful way to set goals for your team. They are widely used at Google and other Silicon Valley tech companies but are even more useful in startups and the entrepreneurial world. That said, OKRs isn’t always utilized correctly which leads to common misconceptions about the practice.

In this article, I will discuss these common OKR misconceptions–and how you can avoid them in your organization.

Most people think OKRs are a rigid framework.

Have you ever written an OKR (Objective and Key Results) for yourself, or for your team or a project? If yes, then you are not alone. Many companies have adopted OKRs as a way to set goals, measure progress and define results.

If you did write an OKR, then it is likely that while you were in the middle of writing it, someone told you “You can’t do it like that; this is how you should write one”. If so, then here are some things to keep in mind:

There are no rigid rules on how to write an OKR. Everyone can write their own version of an OKR. That’s what makes them so great! It is a living document that evolves over time. So to everyone who says “This is how I would have written it”, please stop right there. You have never written one before!

A good OKR is specific but flexible. Keep the document short and quick to read (that’s what makes them great). But don’t be so specific that your future self can’t interpret the meaning behind each bullet point and translate them into actions.

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Most people think OKRs are all about goal setting.

“OKRs are all about goal setting.” That’s true, but it’s only one aspect of OKR management. The whole point of OKR management is to create alignment and focus across a team or an entire organization. OKRs help teams align and focus by supporting three critical behaviours: clarity, alignment, and accountability—and goal setting is just one part of that.

“OKRs are a linear system.” Your OKRs should be set up in a way that allows for iteration and learning. This means you can revisit them throughout the year as your team learns more about what drives results.

“I need to change my entire culture to use OKRs.” Whether you’re already using OKRs or not, this isn’t true at all. Culture is important—but so is recognizing that culture itself changes as organizations grow and learn. If you learn how to use OKRs effectively, it will enable your organization to better adapt to external changes in the market or internal changes in the team.

Most people think OKR is designed for tech startups.

Why do so many people think that OKR is a Silicon Valley creation? Why do people think it’s only for tech companies? These are very common misconceptions.

To be fair, OKR did originate at Intel in the late ’90s and has been used by leading tech companies ever since. But Google, Twitter and Pinterest have all used OKRs to great success.

And it’s not just technology companies that use OKRs. They can be used by any type of organization, including schools, hospitals, government agencies and nonprofits.

The most important thing about using OKRs is that it can help you create a culture of continuous improvement. When you’re having trouble making progress toward your company’s strategic objectives, you need to re-evaluate what you’re doing and make changes where they’re needed.

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Most people think that an OKR is simply a SMART goal.

The misconception that an OKR is simply a SMART goal is a huge one. And it puts people in the same position as if they were to apply the scientific method incorrectly. They’re still bound to fail because they’re not using the OKR framework correctly.

The OKR framework isn’t new; it was created by Intel in the 1980s to help them manage their business better. It’s now been adopted by Google, LinkedIn and a host of other Silicon Valley giants.

What does make OKRs different from other goal-setting frameworks is that you’re encouraged to take a top-down approach to goal setting and align your goals with your company’s strategy and vision. This ensures that you’re not just chasing goals for the sake of it – you’ll have a purpose behind each goal that you set.

OKRs are also unique in providing feedback at three points during the goal-setting process: when you set the goal, when you achieve it and when you celebrate it – each time with your team. This is where an OKR can be so powerful and effective in achieving results and improvement.

Conclusion

The key piece of advice that these experts have for anyone using OKRs is to have a solid strategy in place before you start setting objectives. That way, you’re ready to set goals, execute them, and ultimately achieve success. What’s more, “the best way to design an OKR system is based on your company strategy,” says Allison Stevens, co-founder and COO at Slite. “Matching the right metrics to the right company goals is an art form in itself and requires clear thinking at the onset.”

For OKR consulting, get in touch with us today.