OKR planning steps to help you create great OKRs

If you’re just about to start OKR planning either as a new initiative to bring the OKR goal setting framework to your business, or you’re up and running with OKRs and you’re planning your next periods activity, you will want to ensure you’re set-up to succeed. To help you with your OKR planning and succeed with OKRS, here are questions to consider and answer.

Which metrics are your top priority?

All metrics are not created equally, and depending on the stage your business is at, and how your metrics are performing, you will want to prioritize what you focus most on at a Corporate level. You can then have teams align with your priorities from the top-down and bottom-up.

For example, if Churn not New MRR is what is holding you back, Churn is your number one priority. It doesn’t make MRR not a priority, it just means that Churn is the biggest opportunity and threat you’re facing. This can be expressed as a Corporate OKR.

The same goes for teams as well. Instrumenting your team for success so that you're measuring what you know to matter and looking for insights, that could matter, is part of being able to set great goals. So for Product teams for example, that might be analyzing customer data so that you can see where there are issues and optimizations to be made on User Journey's.

If you don't have a view and handle on measurement, one of your first Objective might be to 'Agree what measurements matter most by team', as measured by % Complete or Milestone Key Results.

Which metrics are core to your success?

Some metrics are core to how your growth machine works and failure to meet or exceed certain thresholds could have serious and predictive consequences either immediately or in the future.

For example, MQLs are an essential part of the top of the funnel, and a shortage would mean that you could predict an issue with New MRR in X days (depending on your sales cycle) if you don’t meet your goal.

These quality predictive metrics need to be considered for your OKRs as part of the planning process. Click to view more SaaS KPIs.

Which OKRs should be BAU, Hard or Moonshots?

Some Key Result Target Metrics will be 100% achievable i.e. Business As Usual, some will have varying degrees of stretch, to the point that some would be considered Moon Shots. Moon Shots are not set with the expectation that they are achievable. It’s the act of trying to achieve the near impossible that sparks ingenuity and innovation.

The reality of OKRs is you need a mix of all of these. If everything is a stretch it can be demotivating, and if everything is achievable then you don’t get the benefits of being stretched. The skill of the managers sign-off of OKRs is to balance these things to optimize performance.

You also need to consider that in the first Quarters of OKRs it may be useful to make goals more achievable whilst your teams get used to the idea that not all goals are designed to be achieved at 100%.

Who own which Metrics?

Metrics come from a variety of teams and individuals inside a business. Revenue metrics mostly come from Finance for example. Top of the Funnel Metrics, Marketing, Middle and Bottom of the Funnel, Sales, and so on.

Assigning the source and owner of a metric ensure there’s a single point of truth for a metric and regardless of who is using that metric in the OKRs, the data is correct.

Which organisational teams and project teams need OKRs?

OKRs can be set at the Corporate level, for Organization / Functional teams like Sales, and for Projects where people from different functions for a team for a project e.g. new websites build.

Who owns OKRs?

OKRs need to be owned. This provides accountability. That does not mean that OKRs are not worked on by many. OKRs can be collaborated on by specific individuals or whole teams.

Does everyone need OKRs?

OKRs should be used when it makes sense to use them. For most teams and individuals they are a good thing, especially if other teams benefit from the transparency. But sometimes the case for OKRs is less clear and you should be brave enough to adapt to your own specific circumstances.

You should also be flexible on the number of Objectives and Key Results. Generalisations like everyone should have 1 or 2 Objectives and each Objective should have 4 Key Results is not true for everyone because they are generalisations. Having a great Objective and 1 or 2 considered Key Results can have a huge impact.

So when planning your OKRs make the framework work for you as opposed to becoming a slave to it.

Bringing your OKR planning together

Once you have the above OKR planning questions answered you’ll find the creation and implementation of OKRs much easier.

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