OKRs, Objectives and Key Results, has been a powerful concept in guiding and measuring organizational performance over the years. Many organizations like Google, Intel, and Linkedin have used OKRs to set missions and reach their strategic goals. Applying the same to your organization can work wonders. But how to do that?

What are OKRs?

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is a popular management methodology created by Intel co-founder Andy Grove in the late 1990s. It has since been adopted by many companies worldwide, including Google, LinkedIn, Zynga and New Relic.

The methodology has been used in the private sector and is increasingly being adopted in the public sector due to its proven track record of improving performance.

OKR is a process that helps teams set goals, define actionable metrics and track progress towards achieving them. The ultimate goal is to achieve what OKR calls “radical goals.” These are ambitious targets that are difficult to reach but provide big rewards when achieved.

The OKR methodology is based on a simple idea: Set challenging yet realistic goals for each team member, then use the power of collaboration to help everyone succeed together. OKRs set clear objectives at the beginning of each quarter with deadlines and key results (KRs) for each objective. KRs are quantifiable results that show whether or not you’ve met your goal. They are specific, measurable and time-bound, so you can clearly see how close you are to achieving your objective at any given moment.

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When should you use them?

This is how OKRs work:  Each quarter, a company sets quantifiable goals against three parameters:

objectives – specific, measurable results to be achieved;

key results – projects that support achieving objectives; and

deliverables – metrics that can be tracked toward those projects.

An objective could be to increase profitability by £5 million over the next year. The key result to achieve that end might be increasing sales in China by 20 per cent. And project deliverables might include hiring a new salesperson focused on Chinese markets and developing relationships with local distributors.

OKRs can help boost employee engagement and productivity because they allow people to set their own goals and measure their own performance against them. This structure also fosters accountability because it gives teams the autonomy to determine how best to get things done without the overhead from managers or middle managers telling them what to do.

How do they work?

Over the past decade, OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) have become an increasingly popular framework for setting goals and measuring progress.

And there’s a good reason for that: OKRs help you focus on what matters and improve both performance and results.

The basic format of an OKR is to set three key results (OKRs) that are ambitious yet realistic, and then break those down into specific objectives, metrics, and timeframes.

The three components of OKRs are objectives, key results and alignment. These three elements are designed to help you focus on the right things, measure your progress and ensure that your results are aligned with your business strategy.

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The process of setting OKRs is below

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OKRs can be used by a single person or a team working towards a common goal, but they work best in a collaborative environment where teams and individuals work together towards shared goals.

The best way to understand OKRs is by looking at examples. Here are some OKR examples.

Example 1

Objective: Enhance the capabilities and training of the Customer Sucess team members

Key Result 1: Build personal development plans with 100% of the team

Key Result 2: Increase task success rate from 80% to 95%

Key Result 3: Submit 5-8 training and coaching opportunities

Example 2

Objective: Reduce the number of Customer-Reported bug tasks after major launches

Key Result 1: Find 30-50 volunteers across the organization to test features before launch

Key Result 2: Decrease time to fix critical bugs in production from 24 hours to 16 hours

Key Result 3: Audit QA testing every three weeks for efficiency

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Example 3

Objective: Improve the response rate for critical bugs in testing

Key Result 1: Hire seven engineers by [date]

Key Result 2: Improve response time from 20 to ten minutes

Key Result 3: Audit non-critical meetings on the team calendar every two weeks to determine if necessary

OKRs can be used to set targets for individuals and teams, as well as for companies as a whole. They are most useful when they have been developed jointly by the individual and their peers, manager or team members.

Benefits of using OKRs and their training

Organisations everywhere have been struggling to find an effective management technique for a long time. Over the years, there have been numerous approaches to boosting productivity, but most of them failed to do so effectively or efficiently. The purpose of OKRs is to align the stakeholders’ top-level objectives with those of the organisation. This allows everyone involved to work towards the same goal and reach it more effectively. The most important aspect of OKRs is that they are used by all levels in an organisation as a goal-setting tool.

Top 15 benefits of using OKRs

  • Align and connect your employees to your corporate goals
  • Give clear direction to every team and individual
  • Increase productivity through focus on goals
  • Track regular progress towards goals
  • Make more effective and informed decisions
  • Achieve measurement, accountability, and transparency
  • Use regular weekly updates to gain vision and insights
  • See how goal progress aligns with the company’s vision, strategy, and top priorities
  • Be effective in setting clear and specific goals
  • Manage achievement and execution with greater accountability and transparency
  • Boost individuals’ engagement and empowerment through your goal-setting process
  • Increase insight and transparency across the organization for top-level executives
  • Analyze root causes of why objectives are not achieved
  • Improve resource allocation and management
  • Capture cross-functional dependencies across teams

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Common pitfalls and how to avoid them

The number one problem with OKRs is that they are not used consistently across the organization. OKRs are so powerful because they align teams through a common objective that can be tracked and measured. If individual contributors don’t know about the OKRs for their team or company, then how will they know how their goals fit into the big picture?

A second common issue is that data is not aggregated up to executive leadership. Executive leadership needs to see the OKRs of all their direct reports in order to understand what’s going on at the company level. They need visibility into all facets from sales, to operations, to marketing, etc. So if you’re not collecting that data and presenting it in an aggregated fashion, you’re missing out on an opportunity for increased overall performance.

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Lastly, make sure everyone knows how to set good goals! Goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound. Without these characteristics, your goals won’t be able to drive organizational performance towards your targets.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, it would be hard to argue that OKR training isn’t worth the time and effort. While it won’t work for everyone, it has the potential to help almost any individual or organization that adopts it. For companies or individuals looking to accomplish more, implement a better strategy, or improve their metrics, this training is well worth the investment. After all, as they say: ‘What gets measured gets managed.’ Training in OKRs could be just what you need to start measuring what matters.

For OKR consulting & training, get in touch with us today.