Objectives and Key Results (OKR)

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Last updated 17 Nov 09:26

TL;DR

Objective and Key Result (OKR) is a goal-setting and progress measuring tool to improve individual and group growth.

What Are Objectives and Key Results

Objective and Key Result (OKR) is a group goal-setting tool used by corporate and individual businesses to set goals and measure the expected results. Effective use of OKRs helps organizations and individuals to track their business growth, create alignment, and improve engagement, focusing clearly on the stated goals.

You may wonder why vast companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and many companies use OKRs tools to set goals and accomplish them.

They understood the effectiveness OKRs spreadsheets or software to achieve organizational goals. Its result-oriented frameworks help maintain steady growth and ensure every member and department work collectively towards achieving a pressing goal.

Objectives and key results
Source: Medium.com - How to Write Objectives and Key Results? | Best OKR Examples of 2019

As much as OKRs are highly significant for businesses, so does it encourage personal development and essential interpersonal growth among individuals. Effective use of OKRs tools enables businesses and individuals to visualize their operations and track progress.

If you are not using OKR methodologies to facilitate your business activities, you are probably doing your business a great deal of disservice. If you are looking to understand how to make use of OKR, bother no further effect. Stick around, as I will explain how to benefit from it.

The term is composed of two different but connected variants.

Objective (O) entails what you set out to achieve. The objective should be meaningful, plain, actionable, and time conscious. If effectively designed and implemented, it encourages timely execution and prevents excessive thought processes. It spans over a long period, sometimes a year or more.

Key Results (KRs) specify how you attain your objective. It helps to track your progress by measuring the expected outcomes. Productive KRs are distinct and timely, realistic, and measurable, and verifiable. Hence, there must be no shady outcome. You either accomplished a Key Results task, or you don't. Usually, by the end of a set-out period, checks and balances are carried out to measure the key results.

Unlike Objective, Key Results are continuously measured as the work progressed. Thus, to achieve your objectives, you may set Key Results ranging from three to five.

Why You Might Want To Use OKR?

Many businesses trap themselves in the misconceptions and misinterpretations of OKRs. People can see them as just a set of goals, especially when they are ignorant of the benefits of a new product or tool.

It is important to note that OKRs go deeper and highly precise in setting the goals and strategically achieving those goals.

Since businesses thrive on exchanging value for money, most companies and individuals want to know what they get back from a product or service before investing in it. Likewise, before using a tool for business operation, you might want to know how useful it will be for you.

So, whether the idea is to
* improve your goals,
* improve goals of your company,
* even to suggest the new management tool for your team/project/company

Then OKR is the perfect management strategy for you. Ideas are cheap; the execution, however, is everything. Why you need to use OKR;

  • OKRs help you express your goals clearly and properly.
  • OKRs help you keep track and measure progress.
  • OKRs help you reassess and stretch.
  • It helps you to turn good ideas into execution.
  • OKRs also drive high-performing teams and encourage engagement.
  • OKRs help control time management and are result-oriented.

Every day we develop strategies to solve our daily and common problems or difficulties. Sometimes, we use a method that has been proven to be effective before. Similarly, we are daily faced with organizational issues. To solve them, we either develop a quick solution or stick to an efficient method used in the past.

OKRs solve a range of problems, but it will depend on how you implement them, how the organization embraces them, and how individual teams use them. Effective use of OKRs help to promote goal clarity and find a solution to common challenges.

Problems OKR Helps to Solve

Where I’ve been involved in implementing OKRs, the drive was to promote goal clarity. We wanted everybody in the organization to understand how the work contributed to our strategy. A good tip is to make everyone partially responsible for success.

How to Implement OKR

Before implementing, it is vital to do so in advance, starting a few weeks before to make the most out of the method.

OKRs work for both individuals and organizations. As individuals, we can improve our daily routines, goals, and aspirations using OKRs. An effective OKR helps us achieve them effortlessly and reach an expected outcome. Likewise, an organization can quickly see if they are on the right track.

The individual perspective

We can reference an example in John Doerr interview with Kleiner Perkins where Perkins asks about his personal OKR. According to Doerr;
"You know, my daughters have both left home, but I had read, and I believe that having family dinners together was a good thing. So, I set an OKR, shared it with my team to be home for dinner by 6:00 pm 20 nights a month, and be present, turning off the phone. I put a switch on the router. We shut down the internet to the entire house. It is not only the quantity but the quality"

Doerr could write his goals like this:
- Objective:
- Have more quality family time, as measured by:
- Key Result 1:
- Getting home for dinner by 6 pm, 20 nights a month.
- KR2:
- Being present by turning off the internet router to eliminate distractions.

An important thing to note is Doerr's brilliant distribution of Objectives and expected Key results. Hence, a personal OKR should state its vision and effort to achieve them.

The team perspective

Organizations' OKRs have little of a difference from personal OKRs. However, they might differ in the strategies implored. A specific company-wide OKRs could look like this:

  • Objective:
    • A fifteen percent growth in revenues and earnings within the next six months
  • KR1:
    • Increase in production of product A by five % in the first quarter.
  • KR2:
    • Increase distribution, so we cover at least 40 % of rural areas around our city in the second quarter.
  • KR3:
    • Increasing capital and investments by 10 % through attracting new shareholders and investors
    • by improving creditworthiness and cash flow.
    • by the active acquisition of shareholders through events

Note that every KR and objective has a date and measurable value.

To create your own OKR:
1. Start with writing your objective with the end date. From now on, you own that objective, and you are committing to it.
2. Write down the first key result to measure your success in achieving the objective.
3. Set at least two more key results. Be harsh yet realistic with yourself.

Common Pitfalls of OKR

Everything with an advantage surely has disadvantages. OKRs are not an exemption. When you fail to implement OKRs, the result may be very devastating. In extreme cases, it frustrates the purpose of the objective and collapses the business.

Some common pitfalls we usually encounter using OKRs are:

  • Poorly rated objective. Also known as "Who Cares" OKR. At a glance, some visions are clumsy, lengthy, and unclear. Unless an OKR promises clear business value, we should not waste resources on it.
  • Insufficient KRs for every Os. Every objective must have reasonable Key Results counting about three to five. If the measurable process does not align with the desired outcome, the OKR is already defeated. Change it as quickly as you can.
  • Inability to differentiate between aspirational and committed OKRs. Aspirational OKRs are impossible to attain but set a template for business growth. Committed OKRs are very much achievable. Failure to differentiate between these two can cause limitations and setbacks to your business.
  • Timid Aspirational OKR. If your Aspirational OKR doesn't meet the needs of your customers, then it's timid.
  • Team burning. If your team is using all the resources for the objective, it can burn your team. Plan to use 80 % so you can adjust during the ride.
  • Team doesn't commit enough (also exchangeable with sandbagging). Even with the best strategy and goal-setting methodology, if your execution fails. With OKR, you can see where the failure happens and adjust for the future.

What are next steps with OKR?

Pitfalls like this are unavoidable in setting or writing an OKR. However, if the listed mistakes resonate with you, you need to look into your OKR and probably set a new one.

Last note, the focus of every business and individual is to maximize profit and ensure growth. OKRs set strategic opportunities for your business and help you drive sales. When effectively applied, the result can be unimaginable. Writing OKRs doesn't have to be complicated; follow the OKR examples and practices provided in this article to write effective OKRs for your business.

Your company doesn't have to suffer set back in achieving your set objectives. In situations where you fail, the strategy might be faulty. Hence, it would help if you changed to a new vision. Also, you can employ OKRs tools and firms to carry out effective OKRs that address your company's needs and align with the company.

Resources for OKR

Prokop Simek

Prokop Simek

CEO at DX Heroes | Developer Experience ⚙️ | Developer Portals & SDKs 💻