A sudden and/or drastic shift in priorities can warrant a shift in your OKRs. Here, we give examples of when creating new OKRs mid-cycle could be necessary, how to do it, and how to address team members’ concerns in the process.

While it’s rare to adjust company-level OKRs during a quarterly cycle, it may be necessary to change or recalibrate your goals if they are no longer relevant or priorities have shifted. A shift in priorities may be intentional (e.g., a significant change to a product) or unintentional (e.g., an extended stakeholder absence).

Creating new OKRs mid-cycle

When a new or significantly recalibrated high-level quarterly OKR comes up, what’s the best way to keep your team unified? The addition of a new OKR or a radical change to an existing OKR’s timeline may seem onerous or disruptive to your current workload, or you may be concerned that a sprint Objective will steal time and resources from an existing goal.

If you or someone on your team are “feeling the heat” or “the fear” about a new or amended OKR, here’s some advice on how to take new OKRs mid-cycle in your stride.

In team and 1:1 meetings, discuss the new OKR and explain why it’s important to the organization. Some people handle change better than others — gently repeat the message until you’re tired of hearing it yourself. Once everyone connected to the goal is in alignment, agree on 3-5 measurable and time-bound team Key Results to help focus on the new Objective.

As innovation tends to dwell at the edges of an organization, rather than its center, changes or additions like this are where individual-level OKRs can really shine. OKRs are not islands; they create networks — vertical, horizontal and diagonal. Ask individuals to create their own Objectives for the new OKR and most or all of their own Key Results. People who choose their own destination know what it takes to get there.

Questions to ask to achieve sprint goals:

  • What’s a specific challenge that may be a barrier to achieving this goal in the next 90 days? What Objectives can you set to address potential blockers?
  • Individual Objectives should link to the company’s game plan; can you connect peers or link teams horizontally to achieve this goal?
  • Double check — do individual OKRs link or support the sprint Objective?
  • If you successfully meet your Key Results, will you achieve your Objective? (You should.)

When you connect every contribution to the organization’s overall success, the alignment gives meaning to work, and individual OKRs deepen our sense of personal ownership, which leads to radical engagement and innovation. By working towards annual Objectives as well as quarterly ones, you can complete a full marathon via a series of shorter sprints.

If you create a network to achieve a quarterly sprint OKR, keep in mind that when two or more teams have parallel Objectives, their Key Results should be distinct.

Where can I get more information?

OKRs are a powerful goal setting tool used by teams to reach for their most audacious goals. There’s a reason why so many great companies like Google use them. Learn more about OKRs by reading Measure What Matters or exploring our FAQs, Stories, and Resources.

Or, if you are looking for an OKR coach, check this out.

If you’re interested in starting our OKRs 101 course, click here.