Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) Googles Goal System

What is an OKR?

OKR (Objectives and Key Results) is a simple management and planning method that helps organizations define and accomplish their goals. It is a framework that helps in achieving tasks in the shortest time possible by coordinating the teams and their leaders on to one direction to obtain their goals.

How did it come about?

This framework originated in the 1970’s. But it was promoted by John Doerr during his time at Google. It wasn’t until the idea spread through out Silicon Valley that major companies like LinkedIn, Twitter, Spotify and AirBnB started following the same method. OKR was not just meant for tech companies to embrace but many companies like Walmart, Target, The Guardian and ING Bank have also followed suit.

How to make OKRs?

An objective tells you where to go. A key result will tell you if you are there or not.

OKRs are usually made quarterly. Although there is no restriction in making them annually or weekly, it is a good practice to have them made quarterly. An Objective should describe what you want to achieve and with measurable outcomes. Depending on the size of your organization, you can make 3-5 objectives. Making more than 5 objectives is not advisable as it becomes difficult to manage them.

Each objective has their Key Results. They help measure the progress of the objective as they are quantifiable that eventually guide how well you are performing. So for every 3 objectives, there should be 3 Key results with each objective.

To make an OKR, you need to analyze and assess all the high priority tasks during a quarter. When you have planned what you want to accomplish, which is the objective part, you need to find the key results, which basically, consist of how you’re going to get it done. That is the gist of OKR.

The OKR needs to be scored on a scale of 0-100%. Anything around 30% is bad, 70% is good and 100% is great as you were able to fully accomplish your goal. Once an OKR is complete, you have to obtain feedback from the teams and see if there was anything that you may have missed or if any OKRs were ignored. This is important to help improve for obtaining the objectives in the next quarter. An example of an OKR is listed below:

OKR Objectives and Key Results Example

Source: OKR Examples

What makes a good OKR?

An OKR needs to be short, simple, concise, measurable and memorable. It should inspire and promote ambition amongst the teams to spark their creativity. An OKR should create transparency and alignment amongst the teams so that everyone has access and clarity to what is being done.

It reduces the process of setting goals which normally takes months to days. Time and resources are spent on achieving the goals instead of setting them. OKR allows you to focus on what you should do next, what should you focus on and how far are you from achieving your goal.

What are the benefits of having OKRs?

OKR has an agile approach as you have shorter life cycles, the room for adapting to changing needs, listening to feedback and continuously improving. In a nutshell, OKR promotes simplicity. It removes all the complications and focuses on what exactly needs to be done and how it needs to be done. Although there is no single way to adapt OKR as every company has their own way of adapting it. They adjust it to suit their company’s needs thus create different versions of it. It keeps the customer’s needs first and ensures that businesses stay on track in this highly competitive world.


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