OKR: Objectives and Key Results

What are OKRs?

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a popular leadership process for setting, communicating and monitoring quarterly goals and results in organizations. The goal of OKRs is to connect company, team and personal objectives in a hierarchical way to measurable results, making all employees work together in one unified direction. OKRs are usually implemented in special OKR software.

Big part of OKRs is making sure each individual knows, what's expected of them at work. OKRs are kept public in front of everyone, so people and teams move towards the same goals and know what others are focusing on.

OKRs consist of a list of 3-5 high-level objectives. Under each objective then usually 3-5 key measurable results are listed. Each key result has a progress indicator or score of 0-100% or 0 to 1.0 that shows its achievement. See the example OKRs special site for how OKRs are worded in real life practice.

Usually OKRs are part of a recurring quarterly planning and progress review process. While majority of OKR usage is quarterly, some companies also set annual or monthly OKRs

It's said, that if there is one leadership and team management practice every leader should implement, it's OKRs. It's lightweight, does not consume time or resources, but gives strong benefits for productivity, focus and company culture.

Implemented initially in 1970s by the President of Intel Andy Grove it later spread across many tech companies, especially when Google started using them early on. Nowadays OKRs are used by tens of thousands of teams and companies from SMEs to Fortune 500. Google, LinkedIn, Intel, Zynga, Sears, Oracle and Twitter are just some well-known OKR users who love and use them.

See this infographic for more about OKR history, users, quotes, best practices and examples.

To implement Objectives and Key Results, use an online OKR software tool like Weekdone.

The following presentation digs deeper into using OKRs:

Step by Step Guide to OKRs [Ebook]

OKR ebook

Introduction to OKR – Objectives and Key Results [Blogpost]

OKR infographic

Guide: What are OKRs and How to Get Started? [Infographic]

OKR infographic

Structure of OKRs

OKR structure is very simple:

  1. Objectives. You start by defining 3-5 key objectives on company, team or personal levels. Objectives should be ambitious, qualitative, time bound and actionable by the person or team.
  2. Results. Under each objective, define 3-4 measurable results, not more. Key results should be quantifiable, achievable, lead to objective grading and be difficult, but not impossible. OKR results can be based on growth, performance, revenue or engagement. Often they are numerical, but they can also show if something is done or undone, so a binary 0 or 1.

How to use OKRs?

Once defined, communicate OKR objectives and key results to all stakeholders and make sure they are understood. If needed, tune the wording together to have a common understanding.

As people start working, they update their result indicators regularly - weekly is a good period. An objective is considered done when 70-75% of its results have been achieved. If 100% of objectives results get done, it's not considered ambitious enough.

Review OKRs regularly, as needed. Be flexible. If your company, team or personal goals change, feel free to change the OKRs together as well. No process should be more important than common sense and everyday business.

See here how OKRs can be implemented in minutes in online OKR service.

Benefits

The main benefit is to keep vision, goals and objectives always in front of employees. They'll know what's exactly expected of them. They can then also align their work to team, department and company goals.

When set up and used regularly, OKRs are really simple to use and do not take much time to implement or follow. Often it takes just a few hours each quarter to check and review the OKRs, although you will look at them as a reminderand mark your progress on a weekly basis.

OKRs are often loved by leaders and managers seeing their people start moving towards important goals, not small unimportant tasks. Focus and productivity is the result of good OKR process.

When to use OKRs?

It's said if you're looking to implement just one best practice management tool in your team or company, Objectives and Key Results should be it. Whenever you want your people move in right direction, just implement OKRs and have the employees follow your vision. No wonder OKRs have taken Silicon Valley and the rest of the world by storm.

Getting started with OKRs is easy and simple by following the guidelines in OKR software

Companies using OKRs - Case Studies

First introduced at Intel. Made mainstream and popular by being used all across Google. Loved by many tech and mainstream companies from startups and SMEs to Fortune 500. OKR users include Twitter, Sears, LinkedIn, Oracle, Zynga and many others.

Learn how other companies use OKRs to improve their teams by reading these OKR case studies.

Need an online OKR tool? Try Weekdone world-leading OKR software for free.

Weekdone is the simplest way to set up and automate the OKR process in your team.
Company, team and personal OKRs - it's all there in a beautiful visual way.
The visual OKR dashboards quickly show you how your company is doing.

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