Value creation is universally the point of most companies and that would usually mean growth. When thinking about OKR examples for growth you firstly need to define what needs to grow. Are you growing or improving high level company KPIs like revenue and profitability? Or taking a customer centric approach to growth and growing Customer Satisfaction or product usage. Or both?
In terms of OKRs at the top of the OKR hierarchy these aspirational growth OKRs are what you’re inviting teams to align themselves with. By making them stretch goals and aspirational what you are trying to achieve in increase in focus, cross-team collaboration, innovation, and learning. What could a high-level growth OKR look like? Let us develop one of the areas of focus above – the customer.
Let’s imagine a publishing business has been struggling with the transition to digital and they need to move from a revenue plateau to growth. Their OKR that is trying to act as a focal point and catalyst for all teams might be:
OBJECTIVE – Subscribers love our publication, will only and refer us.
KEY RESULT 1 – Create 100,000 new paid subscribers.
KEY RESULT 2 – Subscribers read out content on average 4 out of 7 days.
KEY RESULT 3 – 10% of subscribers’ referrer friends and family
There is not known how many quarters this will take to achieve but it’s clear that this is what success looks like, and away from the BAU of publishing this is what everyone needs to be working towards.
How can existing teams and cross-functional teams support this OKR? They can start by discussing that the best and most impactful ways of achieving the goal are. After a LOT of discussion, they need to initially focus on 3 areas.
Get the platform subscription ready and optimized.
Activate trial customers and keep subscribers coming back.
Get referral engine starting working.
The conversation then moved to two key areas. What would success be measured and what needs to be done by whom and when. This is the Key Results for these Objectives:
OBJECTIVE – Get the platform subscription ready and optimized.
KEY RESULT 1 – 5% of visitors subscribe to our content.
OBJECTIVE – Activate trial customers and keep subscribers coming back.
KEY RESULT 1 – 80% of customers subscribers stay after the trial period.
KEY RESULT 2 – 90% of new paying customers are still paying after 90 days.
OBJECTIVE – Get the referral engine working.
KEY RESULT 1 – 10% of subscribers’ referrer friends and family.
The conversion then turns to what needs to be done. These are called Initiatives. If you want to achieve your growth OKRs you’re going to need to not only choose the right activities to do but execute efficiently. This means usually working in an agile way.
The Product and Engineering teams start to plan improvements to the platform and create a project in Jira, where they manage tickets.
Another cross-functional team is focused on converting visitors to subscribers. They include people from Marketing, Product Management and Engineering. Their Initiative ideas for testing included:
The referral engine OKRs Initiatives also included team members from Marketing, Product Management and Engineering. Their Initiative ideas for testing included:
If you work in teams where ambition comes naturally and it is safe to set aspirational goals and not achieve 100%, then growth is easier to achieve because you are set-up to encourage a desirable level of risk, innovation and learning. If your company is more comfortable playing it safe and thinks goals are always to be hit at the 100% level, then OKRs can still be used but growth might be more limited.
In the same way, how you manage the day-to-day and week to week will either accelerate or limit growth. If you’re used to working in a safe and agile environment then that’s going to support growth goals more than teams where it’s not normal to frequently share progress, priorities, problems, ideas and where necessary challenge things you don’t agree with.
As you have hopefully seen from the examples above, OKRs and growth go together. The key is to focus on how you’re going to grow, what success looks like, what you are going to do to achieve it, and how you propose to run processes like check-ins.
A practical guide for C-Levels to optimize strategy, OKRs, people and company culture to create a step-change in performance.