OKR is a goal setting format that stands for Objective and Key Results. The OKR acronym is used to describe the objective and the measurable outcomes that when achieved would result in the objective having been achieved. The measurable outcomes are called Key Results.
OKR is more than a goal setting format where Objectives and Key Results are written and link together in cascades. OKR is a framework that leaders use to optimize business operations for the benefit of all stakeholder – shareholders, customers and employees.
OKR is as much a way of thinking, working, discussing, agreeing, updating, sharing and learning, as a goal format. OKR focus on creating value, aligning resources, execution, innovation and learning. Which means OKR implementations need to be encourage the right behaviours and rituals. When they become second-nature they have become cultural.
OKRs work when they are an agenda item that is frequently discussed. This is where a commitment to the OKR cycle comes in.
OKR stretch us enough to make us think and act differently, without paralysing us. OKRs have built in systems for making ambition normal and even fun.
When you focus on too much nothing matters most, and you achieve less. OKR force objective and outcomes to be highly specific, like SMART goals.
Transparent and open OKRs help us belong to a whole, not in a silo. We feel part of a wider team, and we have context for the work we and others are doing.
The benefits of OKR reported by both leadership and the teams asked to discuss, agree and work towards OKR are numerous and your perspective depends on your role and responsibilities. The benefits to a leader of a company are obviously different to a more junior member of a team. The themes that OKR benefits fall under have a pattern though.
For leaders, OKR provides a framework to execute and operationalize strategic thinking. Bridging the strategy – execution gap. This has the benefit of increasing KPIs like Revenue.
For managers and their reports, OKR provides a an opportunity to stop and consider where the opportunities and issues are, and agree where progress needs to made now.
The result of leaders communicating strategy and teams considering what their goals should be that support strategy is alignment, prioritization and focus.
When you have succeed with OKR, goals are clear, updates are happening weekly. Progress is visible and you can see where your wins are and where help is needed.
When teams and employees know what their priorities are they are able to de-prioritise what matters less. This makes work more enjoyable and increases their impact.
When you have helped create OKRs you are more engaged and energised, you’re also happy to be accountable for the outcome and share the performance burden.
Thinking about using OKR?
This is what you and your colleagues need to know about succeeding with this goal setting framework.
Do you want to follow these best practices / rules?
INSPIRE, ALIGN & UNITE
Set company goals that inspire and align everyone, because not inspiring people is a wasted opportunity to unite everyone and drive the right behaviours and actions.
FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS MOST
Set team goals that focus on the wildly important and need progress to be made now, because BAU / everyday goals won’t move the needle, but will dilute focus.
Set goals based on your org. structure and in cross-functional teams, and make them transparent, because siloed teams and invisible goals are obviously a terrible idea.
LISTEN, TRUST & MOTIVATE
Unlock bottom-up thinking, because leaders often don’t know best!
FOCUS ON MEASUREMENTS THAT MATTER
Make a measurable impact by acting on measurements that matter, which are often lead and not lagging indicators – the big lagging like Revenue and NPS make average goals and much better KPIs.
SHARE WHAT SUCESS LOOKS LIKE
Separate desirable and measurable outcomes, from the work that achieves them – your to-do list is valuable, but not a goal.
FREQUENTLY UPDATE & DISCUSS
Commit to discussing goal and execution progress frequently, ideally weekly. Set-and-forget goals lead to mediocre performance.
BE BRAVE, BE AMBITIOUS
Set stretch targets because that’s where the magic happens, but only if it is OK not to always hit the 100% progress mark.
Set time aside to consider how you did and what you learned, learning is a measure of success as well.
BUILD A GREAT CULTURE
Commit to a culture that encourages the sharing of ideas, questions, concerns and mistakes. Make it clear that speaking up and taking risks will not negatively impact self-image, status, or career.
OKR CYCLE MANAGEMENT IS KEY TO DELIVERING STRATEGY AND GETTING RESULTS
PROPOSE OKRS, DISCUSS AND REACH CONSENSUS
What do we need to make progress on most this period? How will success be measured aka Key Results? Which activities will ensure progress is made? This should all be easily managed in OKR software.
PROGRESS, PLANS, PROBLEMS & WINS
A quick update takes a few minutes and shares progress, problems and wins with the people that matter. This again, should all happen systematically at your chosen cadence in OKR software.
ONE-ON-ONES OR IN TEAMS
EXECUTION & ISSUE FOCUSED
Quick meetings to talk about plans and any issues.
SEE THE DATA
AND READ THE NARRATIVE BEHIND THE DATA
A commentary that goes with the latest OKR and KPI progress results. OKR software like ZOKRI will manage this along with other steps in your OKR cycle.
END YOUR QUARTER THE RIGHT WAY
CELEBRATE, LEARN, PUSH ON
The story of final OKR % progress and what it really means. The highs, low and learnings. When ready, agree the final, fair and balanced grading of success and decide to continue, or not.
ZOKRI helps organizations unlock the benefits of strategic and goal setting frameworks like OKR. Systematically ensuring strategic alignment, and keeping teams engaged and focused on achievement throughout the quarter.
“I took the time to enter our executive OKRs into 3 platforms to test and demonstrate them to the broader team, after investigating 9. I found that ZOKRI was considerably easier than the others to enter the data into.
Beyond the ease and intuitiveness of the platform, the actual structure of the OKR builder was the most comprehensive. It easily accommodated % based Key Results and even allowed me to create thresholds.
Finally, having KPIs and OKRs separated but living in the same system is wonderful. The ability to have KPIs and OKRs in a team meeting or a dashboard whilst maintaining their separate functions, complex health metrics and working priorities is incredible.”
Director of Culture – GoCanvas