How to write effective OKRs
Objectives and key results (OKRs) is a tool to focus, align, prioritize and measure the work of an organization in order to accomplish their mission and achieve their vision. The framework for setting outcome-based goals aligns the work every team and individual is doing, at every level of the organization.
Writing clear, measurable OKRs is something businesses and teams struggle with all the time.
Why are they so difficult to write? There's a few reasons for this. One has to do with the method in which goals are created and cascaded, another is approaching the goals from a task-driven mindset, opposed to being outcome focused.
Whether this is your first time writing OKRs, or your 20th, we want to give you some guidance to make the process a little easier.
The distinction of a good OKR
If you’re just getting started with writing OKRs, you may be wondering what more is there to it beyond setting your goals for a period of time.
Keep in mind that your OKRs are part of a larger picture. They tie in strategy and execution and align with your company’s mission, vision and values.
OKRs are a methodology to articulate exactly what you need to do, and by when, in order to operationalize your strategy in order to fulfill your mission, vision and values.
Breaking down OKRs
An objective is “what” needs to be achieved and the key result is “how” you are going to achieve something measurable.
Objective: These are three to five company, team or personal goals. They should be qualitative, actionable, ambitious and most of all, be time bound.
Key result: Each objective should have three to five measurable key results. They should be quantifiable enough to lead to objective grading using a 0 to 1 grading system.
Objective: Increase brand recognition to make the company the market leader.
- Key result: Increase revenue to $750M in 2020
- Key result: Reduce net revenue churn by 2.75% in 2020
- Key result: Improve customer retention to 98.6%
Your OKRs should be:
By setting stretch goals, you push boundaries and accomplish more.
OKRs are all about metrics—by setting measurable key results, companies can more easily assess progress of initiatives, and understand whether they achieved their goal.
The OKR framework is more than goal-setting, it’s a framework that requires a cultural shift to tear down traditional silos and business walls—and instead, foster a culture of transparency, where all goals are open, and progress is viewable by everyone.
When you create a new objective, it is with the understanding you possess the means to realize it. OKRs can generate cross-functional coordination, but your objectives should primarily be within your control.
- Unrealistic or ambiguous goals
- Task lists
- General actions you plan to take
- Overly specific to be constraining