How To Write Great OKRs

Depending on whether the type of OKR is Strategic, BAU or Personal, an Objective is the answer to “what do you need to work towards and make progress on this quarter?”.

how to write okr

Perhaps it’s:

Here’s an example of a BAU Optimization Objective with supporting information:

Objective

Significantly reduce the time it takes to resolve a customer claim to increase Customer Satisfaction.

What and Why Now?

It’s the thing customers complain most about. If we target this it will help us improve customer satisfaction a lot and a wide range of KPIs and Pirate Metrics will improve across the business.

Create an OKR

Key Results & Initiatives

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There are two things to think about next – Key Results & Initiatives

Note that every OKR has Key Results, but not every OKR needs to have Initiatives.

Key Results

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Key Results are the measures and targets that if met or exceeded would mean that the Objective will have been reached.

You typically create 1 to 3 Key Results per Objective. The average is 2. Excessive Key Results usually the answer to why OKRs fail.

These need to be carefully thought through, so here is some guidance on set Key Results for your Objective.

Measure & Targets – Best

The most common and our preferred Key Result formula is:

[Increase / Decrease] [Metric Name] from X to Y

X = Starting Value
Y = Target Value – the value you think can be hit 100%

Here’s an example:

Add Key Result

Baseline

Another approach when you know the measure but can’t set a target because you don’t measure it yet, name your measure or metric and put [BASELINE] and ZERO’s as values.

Big Strategic Projects & Milestones

If the Key Result is to complete a big strategic project you can either:

Initiatives

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Initiatives are not your everyday task list, they are how you and your team propose to meet the Objective. Different people often work on different initiatives during a quarter, and OKR meetings will spend a lot of time talking about these.

Initiatives are the answer to the question: What could and should we do to achieve this Objective?

Initiative 1: Implement new complaint tracking software
Initiative 2 …
Initiative 3 …

There are two types of key initiative to think about:

Task Based Initiatives

Initiatives can be as big as a project or a collection of tasks.

Initiatives that are project or task based have a due date as well and the aim to complete them.

Initiatives As Experiments

Sometimes Initiatives can be experiments as well.

Your experiment might have a hypothesis and its aims. Perhaps you are trying to influence a leading key performance indicator moving it from X to Y?

At the end of an experiment you might document the results and your learnings. Did your experiment have the desired impact on the completed OKR?

OKR Example

OKR Examples

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So you can see more examples of the OKR format at work, here are some examples of OKR you can learn from.

KPI Targeted OKR

Objective

Key Results

Note: see how the Key Results ‘balance’ quality and quantity – an OKR best-practice.

Process Targeted OKR

Objective

Key Results

Note: see how the Key Results ‘balance’ an efficiency gain with an expected outcome.

Strategic OKR

Objective

Key Results

Product Launch Focused OKR

Objective

Key Results

See how in this example the Key Results are not describing the work going. They describe what success of that work would look like – an app that gets used, converts visitors to customers and is liked a lot. Also, this OKR is cross-functional – Marketing, Product, Engineering work on this.

You can read more OKR examples here.

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