OKR (Objectives & Key Results) is a goal setting framework that was popularized by Google and is in use by many organizations now. It is a simple approach to create alignment and engagement around measurable and ambitious goals.
The difference between frameworks like OKR and traditional planning methods is to ensure that goals are not only set, but also reviewed and reevaluated on a regular basis. The regular cadence ensures that all objectives are aligned and measured to ensure success.
Well-defined OKRs will have measurable “Key Results”. At each review point, one must look at how you did for each of the defined objectives and learn from the feedback to plan better moving forward.
In its simplistic form, you can document each OKR as:
I will do (Objective) as measured by (a set of Key Results)
As you can see each statement captures the (O)bjective and the (K)ey (R)esults.
Objective: These should be qualitative descriptions of the goal. It should be challenging to achieve.
Key Result: These should be metrics-driven that can help you measure your progress in achieving the defined Objective. For each Objective, you should have 2 to 5 Key Results. Having too many will make it difficult to execute.
Do not define too many OKRs. Quality matters over quantity. Ensure your OKRs are well defined and measurable.
ProjectManager captures the elements of OKR aptly as,
- Make clear goals
- Make goals inspiring
- Make goals public
- Always measure progress
- Failure happens
Benefits of OKR
Organizations that use OKR love the framework because of the simplicity it offers. It is not difficult to learn and adopt. The objective is to focus on the goals rather than on the framework itself. It doesn’t take time to setup and use.
OKRs bring alignment from strategic planning to actual execution; hence ensuring transparency across teams and the organization.
They can be defined at the Organization level, Department Level and also at the Individual Level. Each of them can be interlinked to ensure the overall goals and objectives of the organization are met.
OKR can be used for different things in different organizations. Startups can used it as a framework for growth. Established enterprises can use it as an innovation framework.
There are several Excel Templates, Desktop Application, and Web Applications available for OKR that simplifies its usage. We will try to cover reviews of these tools in subsequent articles.
- The Beginners Guide to OKRs [PDF]
- OKR Templates
- OKR Playbook by Atlassian
You may want to take a look at the OGSM framework as well.
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