This page is in two parts. We have found that before you review OKR examples it helps to review how OKRs are written. This way you are in a better position to understand the examples described below for both Objectives and Key Results. The good news is there are lots of examples to learn from. They start with Company OKRs and extend to examples of OKRs for all of the common departments found in a company.
Part 1 – A step-by-step guide to writing great OKRs
Part 2 – Over 100 examples of OKRs that you can learn from and use right away.
There is even a story of a company we called ABC Inc. that describes OKRs from the Company level down across a number of departments.
They have been combined as reading part 1 helps you to understand and use part 2 more effectively.
In learning to write and manage OKRs, if you’re not careful you can find yourself down rabbit holes and get the impression that OKRs are complicated, when they are simply goals. Every company, team and individual benefits from having them. So let’s write some goals.
Good goals happen through discussions and describe precisely where the biggest improvements need to be made, and a desirable future end-state that is hard to achieve and measurable. Nothing more or less.
OBJECTIVE: I will: E.g. Grow our Product Range
KEY RESULT: As measured by: ____________________
Everyone is busy, and everybody wants to know that the work that they are doing is helping their team and company succeed. This is where well thought out Key results come in. You’re trying to connect the work that is happening with outcomes.
This means that the ‘as measured by’ Key Results are the ‘success criteria’ for your Objective. The measurable ‘outcomes’ you want to achieve at the end of a period of time, usually a Year or Quarter.
When you look on the web for OKR examples you will find lots of variation in how Key Results are written. Some good and some really bad. That said, the thing about an open-source framework like OKR is that if you follow a few guiding principles you can relax a bit and not let the best get in the way of the good, or good enough.
Metrics / KPIs Make Great Key Results
Key Results that are trying to improve metrics make great Key Results. The debate then becomes about which and how many metrics to measure, and what the target values should be. We will discuss Key Result difficulty and OKR grading in a moment.
Give thought to how the target is achieved as well. If you are trying to increase a KPI to a target value, is success measured by:
Milestones Can Work As Key Results As Well
If your Objective is to achieve specific milestones in a period then your might set-up a Key Result that looks like this in ZOKRI. This type of Key Result could easily be an Initiative as it’s an Activity / Project.
Open New Office Location
5% Propose Region
10% Agree Region
15% Propose Location
20% Agree Location
50% Hire Region Head
70% Acquire Office
80% Hire Team
100% Up & Running
The definition of what success looks like for Milestone Key Results is a little more complicated as it might be Hard to achieve but unlike KPI based Key Results, 70% might not be a good result. So if you do want to use Milestones as a Key Result and not an Initiative, where possible we would recommend setting the difficulty as Business-as-Usual, where 100% is the definition of success.
Binary Key Results
There’s no rule that says Key Results can not be binary – either done or not done. It is however hard to track progress between weeks, and it’s hard to grade as 70% of not done is a little strange. That said we do have the ‘Confidence’ input in ZOKRI. If progress looks back in time, Confidence is a prediction of the future state of your Key Result and can actually be a better indicator of how a Key Result is progressing.
Activity Based Key Results
With Key Results you want to be measuring outcomes not effort. This means you’re measuring a ‘success factor’, not your means of achieving success.
The general guidance is that if you’re doing an activity that involves: completing, defining, providing, helping, developing, planning, creating, delivering, building, implementing, releasing, or launching, then this might be better denied as an Initiative. Initiative can have more flexible due dates that can be within a period or extend beyond the standard OKR planning periods. Which is common for activities.
That said, if you want to create Key Results that are activities you can. ZOKRI makes these easy as well and even link tools like Jira to a Key Result in a number of different ways.
Try To Turn Activity Based Key Results To Outcome Based Key Results
If your Key Results involve:
And success means completing valuable and important projects and tasks, then a question that needs to be answered is – what would be the impact of delivering this project or task?
If we ‘build’ the new feature we ‘think’ we will:
If we ‘launch’ a campaign we ‘think’ we will:
If we ‘complete’ the re-platforming of our tech we ‘think’ we will:
Another way to make activities in to OKRs is to use the activity as the Objective. For example:
Launch [FEATURE NAME] to help sell and retain more customers
“Avoiding measurement is a zero sum game where the impact of hard work is ambiguous and therefore matters less, we ultimately achieve less, and perhaps worse of all, we learn less because we can’t connect what we’re doing with what works or doesn’t – opening the door to being busy doing things that don’t work.”
There is over 35 years of research on goal setting that beyond telling us what we know, which is goal setting is an essential part of achievement, the research tells us why goal setting works and the conditions that make some goals way more effective that others.
If you are not measuring the right metric (KPI) find out if it’s possible and get a baseline. It’s better to define and target the right metric and plan to track it than measure the success of a poor metric you do have.
If you want to add a project or a task, it’s usually better to add it as an Initiative.
When organised as a cascade, this is called Vertical Alignment, and follows a Parent / Child type relationship.
Horizontal alignment typically comes from having transparency and conversations between teams, and mutual agreement that there is alignment and not conflict.
In large organisations it is typical to opt for fewer tiers in the cascade and invite departments and teams to satellite company Objectives in a one-tier flat structure. This is because the thought, time and effort of creating N-levels of a cascade are an overhead employees can get confused by.
ZOKRI allows you to report progress for single OKR and branches of aligned OKRs, and ensure progress is updated as the cadence you require.
It is common to have Company OKRs and both departmental and cross-functional team OKRs.
Cross-functional OKRs are a result of thinking about what the OKR should be and who is best placed to work towards achieving it, regardless of their current department.
Cross-functional teams require the support of team managers, and the impact or opportunity-cost of using a departmental team member to contribute towards a cross-functional OKRs should be openly discussed, understood and agreed.
Accountability is central to goal setting, as is collaboration. With OKRs, every OKR has one Owner, and can have one or more individual or team collaborators.
Individual Key Results can also have their own Owners and Collaborators where required.
During the life-cycle of an OKR lots of people may also be asked to drop what they are doing and contribute, often via Initiatives. This is because OKRs are high-priority, and important goals that have been discussed at length and committed to.
Introducing ABC Inc – a fast growing innovative technology company that has a huge opportunity to win a really valuable market with their innovative platform and data solution.
The founders and their VC’s think they will either sell to Salesforce or have an IPO. This is their long-term plan (1 – 3 Years)
Mission: Provide access to amazing sales data that builds revenue in sales teams around the globe.
Vision: Companies that use our data sell more than companies without it.
Purpose: Make selling easier, more enjoyable, and more predictable.
ABC Inc. express their Strategy as Strategic Pillars (these are battlegrounds that a company must win). ABC’s are:
If the company applies its efforts and resources in these areas it believes it will scale revenues and value. For the last 3 years ABC Inc. have used OKR to share Company OKRs and empower their leadership teams and employees to align departmental and team OKRs with these in quarterly planning cycles, with weekly check-ins.
Every December for the last 3-years the executive team have had an away day to plan their annual OKRs and aim to present them to department heads. This year they’ve had to do it via ZOOM, not the same but needs must. The team believe in creating a narrow focus with OKRs and from experience know that ‘less is more’. After a day or planning discussion they come up with two OKRs they hoped would unite the company.
Lead the way in CX at every touchpoint to drive sales, loyalty and advocacy in 2021
The Objective is graded as Hard with 70% being seen as ‘Good’ and anywhere near 100% being ‘Amazing’. This success range is made clear to all employees as having ambitious goals is really important but as a result, 100% is not the only definition of success. They’ve made this mistake in the early days of OKR and have learned that clear grading matters.
Acquire and serve customers efficiently so we can invest more in growth in 2021
Again this was graded as ‘Hard’ and had the same success parameters.
These Company OKRs are scheduled to be presented to the company and before teams start to plan OKRs that would support the achievement of these in Q1.
The key questions to answer when considering Objectives is: What is our biggest opportunity / challenge right now – that if committed to and achieved would support the company in achieving its OKRs? After much discussion in teams and in cross-functional discussion the proposed OKRs begin to get presented.
The Customer Service / Success Team have identified their biggest challenges / opportunities to support the CX OKR to be that not every customer is attending QBRs so they are not getting the opportunity to benefit from advocacy or solve issues. Also, it takes a lot of new customers a long time to connect their CRM system to the API and the best and most loyal customers all use the API. So their OKRs for the coming quarter are:
Make Quarterly Business Reviews meetings matter – Q1
Get our API used sooner and more as Customers that use it stay – Q1
Sales has two main challenges right now, hiring new reps and getting them to hit their quota within 6 months. The two issues are not unrelated. The reps that don’t leave as they are relying on their basic + commission. Sometimes it’s the fault of the reps, but there are also things that can be done in sales to ensure reps are supported to succeed faster. So the Sales OKRs are:
Better training and support helps sales targets get hit sooner – Q1
Our Sales team are recommending us to ex-colleagues – Q1
Individual OKRs for SDRs and BDRs are also created as OKRs as they form part of their Performance Review and Personal Development Planning conversations.
Marketing is looking for more cost effective sources of leads to support the Efficiency OKR and reduce the CAC. After much discussion their big priority for Q1 is to improve Organic Search Rankings. Their OKRs are:
Dominate Organic Search to dramatically reduce our CPAs – Q1
A discussion amongst the team leads to further supporting OKRs to be created. The Content team created the OKR:
Become a genuine topical authority and thought leader to rank #1 – Q1
The PR / Outreach Team create the OKR:
Authority websites link to our content to refer traffic and help rankings – Q1
The marketing team also know that website speed is holding rankings back and have asked the engineering team for help. A shared cross-functional OKR is created:
Website load speed is great for customers and Google – Q1
These OKR are not trying to do is express everything that was going on in Marketing teams – the ‘Business-as-Usual’. For example, the Content Team also share content via Social Media and track followers as a KPI. There is no OKR for this but there is a KPI in ZOKRI for it.
After much debate between them, Product Management and the Engineering teams decided to target the following OKRs:
Ingest new data sources successfully – Q1
Reduce our Amazon costs to improve our Gross Margin – Q1
The Initiatives they planned to achieve these outcomes were:
Customer development spotlights real pain – Q1
Get better product analytics to us spot issues and opportunities – Q1
In ABC Inc there are also teams that find it hard to set outcome based goals as they are more service orientated. When an external customer or internal customer needs something they respond. For example, when a new employee is hired a series of steps are followed.
For these teams they look at how they will work, not just what they will deliver. They use health metrics / KPIs to track how they are doing and to spot issues. They also use OKRs to approach how they can improve their systems, processes, and jobs-to-be-done.
Most operational parts of finance is running smoothly. One thing that takes a long time every month is the board report. It can take 2 days to pull the pack together and they want to improve that. So they create this OKR:
Board reports take too long so lets fix that – Q1
The HR team track a wide variety of employee KPIs. The process they are responsible for that they really want to improve in the coming quarter is new starter on-boarding. The feeling is that it’s good but not great. As part of this they’d actually like to turn a feeling into measurement and decide to add the KPI – ‘On-boarding Rating’ to ZOKRI and create the Status – ‘Getting Baseline’. They then create an OKR:
Make new starter on-boarding great because first impressions count – Q1
And so the process continues throughout the company. OKRs are signed off and committed to. Initiatives that would help achieve these OKRs agreed and planned. Energy is good, and teams get going.
It’s clear to everyone at ABC Inc. what the company wants to achieve and how OKRs have been created to support this and will be committed to.
If support is needed people will drop what they are doing to help, because OKRs really matter.
It’s also true that not everyone has an OKR, but on occasion will play a supporting role. Everyone does know their teams KPIs which are called Health Metrics at ABC. These tell everyone how they’re doing and alert them to issues whilst they are focused on their OKR.
Below are more Objective and Key Result examples with links further examples for the main departments and teams in an organization.
What have not been included are cross-functional team OKRs there the OKR was created and then the team. This approach works really well with OKRs and is also a great way of breaking down silos and achieving better collaboration between teams.
Company OKRs will always be top of the OKR hierarchy. These OKRs are usual Annual or Quarterly, and are a reflection of your strategy and company strategic objectives. The battlegrounds you’ve decided are must-wins for your business. Longer range OKR planning is generally discouraged in preference for shorter term goals and agility.
If you’re a smaller company one approach that works well is to have one single unifying OKR that everyone can align with. For example:
Achieve Product Market Fit so we can raise a war chest to scale.
Here’s another unifying Company OKR that involves a lot of a company.
We make something difficult really easy and we’re loved for it.
Finance teams tend to love OKR because of its bias towards ‘as measured by’ metrics. Finance teams involvement in OKR tend not to be limited to just their OKR, but also in the provision of KPI data for leadership and other team. Making finance central to the OKR process.
It’s common for finance OKRs to target specific processes or jobs-to-be-done by finance teams where they are believed to be inefficient. Or they could perhaps target a milestone based event like an audit and having all-hands work together towards a milestone based outcome might also work. Here’s an example to get you going:
Reduce board reporting time as it’s inefficient right now.
HR OKRs can have a huge impact on business performance and the reality and perception of a company as an employer. We’ve lots of examples of OKR for Human Resources as well as KPIs that you will find useful. Here is an OKR example to get you started:
Make ‘personal development plans’ happen and a positive process.
Marketing team are used to tracking Metrics / KPIs. What OKRs allow Marketing to do is decide on which of these are most important every quarter, as well as aligning their efforts with other teams. We think you will like these objective and key result examples for marketing that span all the teams from social to paid media. Here’s an example OKR to get you started:
More great leads for less cash helps us scale
Sales teams will always have their own goals, but setting OKRs are quite different. Salesforce, Hubspot, Pipedrive and dashboards are great for telling Sales teams their targets – but what’s missing is the transparency, alignment prioritisation and collaboration OKRs provide. Take a look at the Objectives and Key Results for Sales teams. Here is an OKR example for Sales:
Our BDR process is generating a stream of great leads.
The customer is always a core pillar and focus for strategy and goal setting. Objectives and Key Results (OKR) allow customer facing teams like Customer Success or Customer Service to focus their efforts on the goals that will make a material difference to the customer and the business. There is a balance between being responsive to what customers require and being proactive and commercial. Here’s a Customer Success OKR example that is single-minded and commercial.
Introduce our latest features and upgrade clients.
Engineering teams love OKR as they focus their efforts on the most significant challenges and opportunities, and the framework aligns with agile ways of working. Creating you Objectives and Key Results is another addition to the engineering teams planning, and a great way of showing the rest of an organisation how engineering are aligning. Here’s an example of an software engineering OKR example:
Launch a the world’s best marketplace for used clothing.
Product Marketing OKRs are important to growth. A continuous focus on improvement ensures your great product resonates and gets bought.
The value we provide is obvious to customers.
As conduits and filters of customer needs, the custodians of product strategy, and a pillar of commercial success, choosing the right OKRs really matters. Product Managers often need to balance the direction of product strategy with the needs of exiting customers, and sales prospects. It’s not uncommon for companies to have significant clients that are up for renewal that may have feature requests on a backlog. Here’s an example of an outcome that might be a focus in an upcoming quarter that requires collaboration between Product Managers, Engineering and obviously Customer Success.
Help the CS team keep our whale clients.
Data science, product and engineering teams use OKRs extensively to connect the work that’s being done to measurable outcomes that align with business goals.
Gain clarity on growth, what success looks like, what you are going to do to achieve your goals. Growth OKRs are typical but how you plan and manage OKRs to achieve growth is what you learn to do. This should help.
OKR can be made complicated but they are actually pretty simple. Here’s a simple guide for getting started with OKRs fast.
OKRs – The simple idea that drives 10x growth. Written by John Doerr who brought OKRs to Google, this book is a great for read any team leader interested in growth.
Read the background behind how and why OKRs accelerate performance in companies on this Wikipedia page about Objectives & Key Results.
OKRs are best managed in OKR software. Here is a list of free and paid for OKR software plans and OKR tools for organizations of varying sizes.
Explore the challenges of remote working and learn how to set OKRs that will set up remote teams for success.
OKRs fall short when companies attempt to apply them to individual contributors.
If schools were to adopt OKRs, maybe this would allow for a personalized approach to education that is currently missing.
Private organizations use performance management to understand progress toward goals. The public sector is no different.
Medical clinics can count themselves as some of the most complex businesses to run. Learn about how OKRs can be implemented here.