OKR vs SMART Goals

If we want to look at OKR goals vs SMART goals we need to start with some definitions to set the scene and lay the foundations for the debate. That way you can make an informed decision as to which is the right goal setting methodology for you.

OKR vs SMART Goals

If we want to look at OKR goals vs SMART goals we need to start with some definitions to set the scene and lay the foundations for the debate. That way you can make an informed decision as to which is the right goal setting methodology for you.

OKR Goals

OKR Goals are a framework that create a hierarchical set of goals that have Corporate OKRs at the top and have aligned Team and sometimes Personal OKRs that align top-down and bottom-up.

An OKR consists of a Qualitative Statement like ‘Optimize our Sales Pipeline’ and 1 - 4 Quantitative Key Results that if achieved would be proof that your goal had been achieved.

As Key Results are Quantitative they will contain a Metric and will also have a Metric target. It would be considered best practice for the Metric target to be hard to achieve, and therefore provide some stretch, which encourages efficiency, ingenuity, creativity, hard work, and better teamwork.

SMART Goals

SMART goals are a basic guide and set of rules for people and teams wanting to use goals to aid achievement, with SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound.

OKR vs SMART Goal Comparison

Specific

SMART

Yes

OKRs

Yes and allow for groupings of Key Results that are more representative of success.

Measurable

SMART

Yes

OKRs

Yes, Key Results should always contain a Metric Name and a Target Metric and therefore be measurable.

Achievable

SMART

Yes

OKRs

Some Key Results are business as usual and achievable, but Key Results can also contain a high degree of Stretch or even be what are called Moon Shots.

Relevant

SMART

Yes

OKRs

OKRs are transparent across the business, aligned and therefore should be highly relevant.

Time Bound

SMART

Yes

OKRs

OKRs often work in periods e.g. Quarters and Months, but can work in any time period.

Hierarchical

SMART

No

OKRs

OKRs are hierarchical in structure which helps ensure alignment top-down and bottom-up.

Collaborative

SMART

Possibly

OKRs

OKRs are frequently collaborative by design i.e. owners and collaborators are assigned or because their transparency encourages it organically.

SMART

OKRs

Specific

Yes

Yes and allow for groupings of Key Results that are more representative of success.

Measurable

Yes

Yes, Key Results should always contain a Metric Name and a Target Metric and therefore be measurable.

Achievable

Yes

Some Key Results are business as usual and achievable, but Key Results can also contain a high degree of Stretch or even be what are called Moon Shots.

Relevant

Yes

OKRs are transparent across the business, aligned and therefore should be highly relevant.

Time Bound

Yes

OKRs often work in periods e.g. Quarters and Months, but can work in any time period.

Hierarchical

No

OKRs are hierarchical in structure which helps ensure alignment top-down and bottom-up.

Collaborative

Possibly

OKRs are frequently collaborative by design i.e. owners and collaborators are assigned or because their transparency encourages it organically.

OKR Goals are really SMART

You can see from the table above that OKRs contain the elements of SMART but evolve them further, and contain elements that are unique to just OKRs. What is great about OKRs is this evolution is achieved without making goal setting complicated, therefore ensuring OKRs are simple and usable by all. As such OKR Goal should be considered SMART, or dare we say it, smarter than smart.

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