Writing Good Objectives

How do you write a good Objective for your OKRs?

Before writing an OKR you need a good understanding of what you want to accomplish. First focus on your Objective. Think of the potential Objectives you’d like to accomplish this quarter, and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does the Objective help achieve company goals?
  2. Is the Objective inspiring?
  3. Does this Objective provide business value?
  4. Is this Objective really achievable in one quarter?
  5. Is this Objective solving the problems our team is having?
  6. Is this Objective actionable and achievable by just us?

It is also important to consider what Objectives are not:

Objectives should not be easy.

If you are starting out with OKRs, achieving 100% of your Objective in 3 months is pretty common. It will help to support team morale and motivate people to set more ambitious goals next quarter.

If an Objective is achieved well before the end of the quarter you weren’t thinking big enough. And if you don’t reach anywhere near that you may have set an annual goal instead.

When you become more comfortable with OKRs, you will want to make them more ambitious. When you hit 65-70% of an ambitious goal, it is still quite an accomplishment! This is why you should expect to only achieve 2/3rds of your Objective in a quarter.

That being said, you want to make sure that 2/3rds doesn’t become the new 100% for your team! Everyone should always aim to achieve 100% of their Objective by coming up with new ways to produce better results.

Objectives are not projects with sub tasks.

Objectives are aspirational goals. They are not one-off activities, which would be considered as tasks or plans.

So if we wanted to write an Objective for a company to increase their revenue a good objective would be to:

Increase product reach in Germany in Q3

This Objective works, since it’s aspirational, time bound, and helps move the company forward.

An example of a bad Objective would be:

Write a product marketing plan for Germany

This is a bad Objective as it is not time bound, inspiring, and not forward looking.

With Objectives, it’s all about being qualitative. They should describe the desired outcome. For example: Understand customer needs is a good Objective because it’s clear and aspirational. You don’t need Objectives to be measurable, unlike with key results.

Keep in mind that Objectives should also be time-bound, either quarterly or annually. If you are setting annual goals, you should further break them down into quarterly Objectives. 

There’s no point in setting goals at all if they’ll just carry over quarter to quarter without any improvement. They would be then KPIs, which are useful for monitoring status quo. Learn more about the difference between OKRs and KPIs here or watch this video below.

You can see more examples of Objectives for your given field at okrexamples.co. To play around with defining OKRs, sign up for free at Weekdone.

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