Intro to OKRsOKRs are a goal-setting framework that helps companies align their efforts towards achieving specific objectives. They consist of objectives and key results that are measurable, ambitious, and time-bound.
- Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRsThis book is a deep dive on OKRs. It explains their origin story, how to use them to focus, commit, align, and how to track them.
Common OKRs Challenges
These are common challenges people face when gaining expertise in okrs. Tackling these challenges head-on can help you learn this skill quicker.I’m an Engineering Manager at a tech company. I'm struggling with setting realistic and achievable OKRs for my team. The nature of our work is highly unpredictable, so it's difficult to accurately estimate the time and effort required for each project. This leads to frustration and demotivation when we consistently fail to meet our OKRs. How can I set more realistic OKRs that take into account the uncertainties and challenges of our work, while still pushing my team to achieve their best?I’m a Product Manager at a mid-sized tech company. We recently implemented OKRs as a way to align our team's goals and measure our progress. I'm facing challenges in getting everyone on board with the OKR framework. Some team members are resistant to change and want to stick with the old way of setting goals. How can I convince my team members of the benefits of OKRs and get everyone on board?Work on your own challenge with the Practica AI Coach
Implementing OKRsImplementing OKRs requires a clear understanding of the company's vision and strategy, as well as effective communication and collaboration across teams. It's important to start with a pilot program and continuously iterate and improve the process.
- How to Make OKRs Actually Work at Your StartupAngus implemented OKRs at Swipely to help align and motivate employees as the company grew rapidly. He realized that simply adopting the OKR system was not enough, execution was key. He focused on making OKRs a layer of communication that connects the company, elevating Transparency, Accountability and empowerment. Stretch goals were set to push employees beyond their limits and force tough conversations. OKRs were decoupled from Performance Reviews to avoid employees sandbagging their goals. The system helped different teams align their objectives to provide the resources and support needed for success. Employees now casually discuss their work in the context of OKRs, showing they feel connected to the company's goals.
- The Single Biggest Myth about MBOs and OKRsDave argues that management by objectives (MBOs) and objective key results (OKRs) are useful tools when done properly. While MBOs often resulted in too many objectives that were vague, OKRs fix some issues by limiting objectives and adding structure. However, Dave rejects the idea that objectives should only be things "above and beyond" an employee's core job. Instead, objectives should cover an employee's entire job scope and be weighted appropriately. Focusing only on objectives outside an employee's core duties ignores most of what the employee actually does.
Good Examples of OKRs
- 10 tips for using OKRs effectivelyRushabh explains how OKRs unlock four superpowers: focus, Alignment, Accountability, and stretching for impossible goals, with examples for each tip. • Objectives should be big and motivating to inspire teams and achieve higher goals. • Key Results must be measurable and include a metric, starting point, goal, and timeframe. • Binary Key Results, which are either done or not done, should be used sparingly. • Each Key Result should have an associated dashboard for tracking progress. • Key Results should be exhaustive and capture the intended outcome to avoid missing objectives. • Metrics should be paired with counter-metrics to prevent adverse outcomes. • Distinguish between committed OKRs, which are expected to be delivered in full, and aspirational OKRs, which are stretch goals. • Cascade OKRs up, down, and laterally within the organization for Alignment and dependency management. • Personal OKRs can be created to accelerate career growth and align priorities with managers and peers. • Prefer a small number of tightly focused OKRs over a long list to maintain focus and commitment. • Effective OKR usage takes time and continuous improvement, and initial implementations may have flaws.
OKRs Cheat Sheet
Here is a quick reference for the top 4 things you need to know about OKRs.
- Step 1: Define Clear Objectives
- Set ambitious and measurable objectives that align with the company's strategic goals.
- Ensure each objective is specific, time-bound, and has a clear owner.
- Keep the number of objectives manageable to maintain focus.
- Step 2: Establish Key Results
- Define key results that serve as measurable milestones towards achieving the objectives.
- Use quantifiable metrics to track progress and determine success.
- Ensure key results are challenging yet attainable to drive motivation and growth.
- Step 3: Cascade and Align OKRs
- Cascade OKRs throughout the organization, ensuring alignment from top to bottom.
- Communicate and reinforce the purpose, benefits, and methodology of OKRs to stakeholders.
- Encourage collaboration and cross-functional alignment to support shared objectives.
- Step 4: Track and Review Progress
- Regularly track and update key results to monitor progress and identify areas of improvement.
- Conduct frequent check-ins to assess performance, provide feedback, and make necessary adjustments.
- Use data-driven insights to inform decision-making and optimize OKRs throughout the cycle.
- Step 1: Define Clear Objectives
How to Implement OKRs at StartupsStartups can benefit from OKRs by focusing on growth and customer acquisition. Examples include increasing website traffic or improving User Retention rates. It's important to set realistic goals and prioritize the most impactful objectives.
- 6 tips for setting OKRs with your team and other lessons we learnedSome of the tips Simon recommends include: • Key results should be defined as percentage growth targets rather than actual numbers to ensure continuous improvement. • OKRs should be set on a quarterly basis to keep up with the fast pace of change in startups. • Set no more than 4 objectives to maintain focus. • Set 3 to 5 key results per objective to ensure proper coverage without losing focus. • Set aggressive goals to drive growth. • Get buy-in from the team by collaborating on setting OKRs together. • Review if targets are realistic based on resources and budget. • Make OKRs visible at all times to encourage Accountability. • Review progress regularly in Meetings to ensure priorities are aligned.
- I hate OKRs... and other thoughts about goal settingMolly believes in having a goal-setting process but dislikes OKRs, arguing they are often too heavyweight for startups. Instead of copying processes used by large companies, startups should figure out what goal-setting approach works best for them at their stage. Effective goals should clearly define what the company needs to accomplish, have a timeframe and metrics. Non-goals, or things the company will not do, are also important. Goals are only useful if they are regularly checked in on and adjusted as the company learns and grows. Molly concludes that startups should experiment with goal-setting to find what works best for them, not default to OKRs.
Frequently asked questions
How often should OKRs be reviewed and updated?
OKRs should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure they remain relevant and aligned with the company's goals. Most organizations review OKRs quarterly, but some may choose to do so more frequently, such as monthly or bi-monthly. It's essential to strike a balance between maintaining focus on the current OKRs and adapting to changing circumstances or new opportunities.
How do I ensure my team is engaged and committed to achieving their OKRs?
Involve your team in the process of setting objectives and key results. Encourage open communication and collaboration, and provide regular feedback on progress. Recognize and celebrate achievements, and address any challenges or obstacles that may arise. Additionally, ensure that OKRs are aligned with individual team members' goals and aspirations, and provide the necessary resources and support for success.
How do I align individual OKRs with team and company OKRs?
Start by ensuring that everyone understands the company's mission, vision, and strategic priorities. Then, set team OKRs that contribute to the achievement of company OKRs. Finally, work with each team member to set individual OKRs that support the team's objectives and align with their personal goals and development. Regularly review and adjust OKRs to maintain alignment and focus.
How do I measure the success of OKRs?
To measure the success of OKRs, track progress towards key results regularly and objectively. Use quantitative metrics to assess whether objectives have been met, partially met, or not met. Additionally, consider qualitative factors such as team engagement, collaboration, and learning. Regularly review and analyze the data to identify trends, areas for improvement, and opportunities for growth. Celebrate successes and learn from challenges to continuously improve the OKR process.