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Thousands Now Find Success with OKRs, Why Aren't You?

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is a flexible tool that helps people, organizations achieve their goals by erecting specific and measurable actions. It also helps them communicate and monitor progress towards them.


Nov 09, 2021

OKRs, or “Objectives and Key Results” are developed to help individuals and organizations achieve measurable goals. Every organization, no matter the size, is looking for ways to better improve its performance.  OKRs is a tool that I constantly am asked about. Setting organizational, departmental, and individual goals is a widely accepted practice. 


Some organizations will rather practice a top-down goal-setting framework that usually ends with them getting stuck in a phase. It is where they try to figure out the types of goals to set instead of moving through with achieving their measurable goals.

What are OKRs

OKRs follow a simple but flexible template that bends and bows to fit almost every purpose. 


“I will (Objective) as measured by (key result).” A John Doerr's formula.


Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is a flexible tool that helps people, organizations achieve their goals by erecting specific and measurable actions. It also helps them communicate and monitor progress towards them. 


Objectives can either be short and inspirational. It defines the goal you want to achieve. For companies, they are capable of creating three to five high-level objectives per quarter of the year. This helps them increase their brand awareness and these objectives are meant to be ambitious. 


Choosing the right objective for your goal can be a challenging aspect of this practice but when it's done correctly, you can tell if you have reached your objective. 


Key Results helps you deliver each set of objectives perfectly, so you can be able to measure your progress in achieving your goals. Each of your set objectives should possess two to five key results and these key results need to be measurable.

The Concept of OKRs

In the 70s, Andy Grove, who worked with Intel as their then-president invented the OKRs. His idea manifested and became popular when John Doerr, who spent five years at Intel working under the management of Andy Grove, learned of Groves' revolutionary system for setting goals and accountability. 


John Doerr who joined Kleiner Perkins in the year 1980, brought with him a new management methodology that will revolutionize tech companies like the Silicon Valley. John Doerr became a venture capitalist and an early investor in Google and introduced it to them in 1999.


Andy Grove's methodology worked perfectly on the revolutionary idea that teams perform better while focusing on outcomes and not procedures. This he did while at Intel. Instead of telling the employees exactly what to do, he sets them a goal and allows them to work out how to achieve them. 


Andy Grove seldom mentioned objectives without joining them to key results, a term he coined out himself. John Doerr was the person behind the name “OKRs,” which he gathered from Andy Grove's lexicon.


In today's world, both companies and non-profit organizations across all sectors are making use of the tool.

How to set good OKRs

OKRs are a flexible framework, and because of this, you can set and phrase OKRs in different ways. Think of it as the pillar of your strategy for the next period. To come up with good OKRs, I will advise that connect them to your day-to-day activities. 


Many companies have their set goals. Research shows that only 26% of employees have a clear understanding of how their work contributes towards achieving the company goals. This is because a team can set goals at the beginning or quarter of the year, and never revisit them. 


But if employees should have a clear understanding of the relationship between their work and the organization's activities. OKR's strategy doubles their motivation. By connecting an individual's work to the organization's goals, the employees see why their work matters. 


For Personal OKRs: OKRs aren't limited to your workplace. It can also be used to improve your personal life. Let's use John Doerr as an example. When he revealed in an interview how his system helped maximize the time he spent with his family. 


John Doerr's Objective: Having more quality family time as measured by:


Key Result: Getting home for dinner at exactly 6 pm for 20 nights a month. Being present by turning off the internet router for the whole house to avoid distractions.

Benefits of OKRs

There are a lot of goal-setting methodologies your team can benefit from. OKRs help you align on flexible goals that are time-bound and are easily measurable. The biggest advantage of OKRs is to map multiple Key Results to each Objective. 

#1 Quick in setting actionable goals 

OKRs have an in-built format that makes it easy for teams to get started on setting and refining their OKRs.

#2 Easy to set stretch goals

Set a challenge for yourself and your team by making one of your Key Results a stretch goal. Stretch goals are deliberate challenging goals that you are not 100% sure to hit-and that's fine!

#3 Simple and Agile

Organizations set up OKRs monthly or quarterly to help them respond to the change in conditions. It is a framework made simple and easy for better understanding. This results in organizations investing their time and resources into actualizing their set goals rather than
defining its process and telling the individuals what they are.  

#4 Clarity and alignment within an organization

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) can be made transparent. This transparency helps to ensure that there is alignment throughout all the levels and departments. This helps them achieve their objectives and ensures that every person is in sync. 

#5 Bidirectional

OKRs are not something that is followed from top to bottom. It is a strategy that is set and each group and individual builds tactical OKRs that align simultaneously with the strategic OKRs. This strategy creates a more efficient and effective process than the top to bottom goal-setting models. 

#6 Encourage collaboration 

OKRs bring understanding on how employees in an organization have a critical role to play in achieving the strategic OKRs. Since it is a collective effort from everyone who is moving towards a common objective, it shows that no one can accomplish the ultimate goals alone. 

#7 Helps with personal growth

OKRs are not just designed to be used in an organization. You can also use it for personal development and goals. If you are consistent with OKRs, you will experience more success in executing your goals.

Some Best Practices of OKR

In addition to the key principles of OKRs, there are also some of the best practices that can help turn the OKR approach into a more powerful goal management framework. They are:


  • Achieving a 60-70% of OKRs is perfectly fine. But if an organization wants to achieve a 100% of its OKRs, then it is likely that the set goal is an easy one. You are expected to set more ambitious goals to help drive you more. 


  • OKRs should not be used as a tool for evaluation. To gain trust from the employees and help them feel safe in setting ambitious OKRs, they need to be assured that they won't experience a negative impact if they don't achieve all the OKRs. 


  • Every person in an organization needs to put in collective efforts and commitment towards the OKRs. A one-sided process from a fraction of employees and its management may not work out well. 


  • An OKRs process is lightweight and may not require unnecessary meetings and documentations. The real reason for OKRs is the fact that it is lightweight. Organizations that are successful today while strategizing OKRs keep it simple as intended. 


  • Being patient with your organization as you learn the steps are necessary when following the OKRs. Just like every other management tool, you may not achieve perfect execution at the first trial. Allow yourself and your organization time to be proficient with the OKR process.


Execution is everything. Thomas Edison once said that “vision without execution is hallucination.” This was a big idea that inspired Doerr and his OKR methodology: Excellent ideas with poor execution will forever remain just an idea. 


John Doerr hinted that the biggest lever in execution is the goal setting and extension of OKRs. This helps us focus our attention, establishes the fact that we are accountable, and highlights the activities that drive our progress. 


James is a 30+ year veteran in the Software and Technology industry. He shares with you his years of experience and winning ways to become a successful leader, while becoming 'unstuck' from the overwhelming challenges that hold us back from complete success.

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