The definition of “OKRs” is “Objectives and Key Results.” It is a collaborative goal-setting tool used by teams and individuals to set challenging, ambitious goals with measurable results. OKRs are how you track progress, create alignment, and encourage engagement around measurable goals.
Whether talking about office operations, software engineering, nonprofits or more, OKRs work the same for setting goals throughout many company levels. They can also work for personal goals and can even be used by individuals to get things done at places where senior leadership doesn’t use them.
- An Objective is simply what is to be achieved, no more and no less. By definition, objectives are significant, concrete, action-oriented, and (ideally) inspirational. When properly designed and deployed, they’re a vaccine against fuzzy thinking—and fuzzy execution.
- Key Results benchmark and monitor how we get to the objective. Effective KRs are specific and time-bound, aggressive yet realistic. Most of all, they are measurable and verifiable. You either meet a key result’s requirements or you don’t; there is no gray area, no room for doubt. At the end of the designated period, typically a quarter, we do a regular check and grade the key results as fulfilled or not.
OKRs remove guesswork remote employees have to do to figure out what their company’s top priorities are. When done right, OKRs are simple. SweatEquity’s George Babu says that it’s possible to sort through what your company’s top three priorities are in as little as an hour-long conversation. After that, plug them into the OKR format and they’re ready to be distributed in whatever way works best for your company. Nothing has to be done in-person.
Here’s an example of a simple yet effective company-wide OKR.
The Andy Grove (Intel) method of grading OKRs is a simple “yes” or “no” approach. However, there are ways to grade them, too—namely “the Google method.”
The book’s website provides some excerpts from the book and answers critical questions related to OKRs:
- OKR Examples
- How to grade your OKRs
- How quickly should we roll out OKRs?
- Committed vs. aspirational OKRs: What’s the difference?
- What are the foundations of successful OKR culture?
- How do OKRs help remote teams?
This system is deceptively simple, but when used properly, good OKRs will equip your organization with superpowers to create things like high output management in all your business goals.