Dear Andy,

How can I ensure, while setting my KRs, that I am covering all dimensions of the Objective? For instance, if my Objective is to develop a new product (O), I need to be compliant to production challenges, quality requirements, environmental regulations, people’s concerns, marketing vision, etc. I know less is more when it comes to OKRs and we should only have 3-4 KRs per Objective. How do I use OKRs succinctly and still make sure no dimensions are missed?



Hi Federico!

Thanks for writing in and for your thoughtful question. I can think of a couple different ways to tackle your concern — let’s get into it!

One way to address this problem is to cascade or ladder your KRs. Many companies will have a top-line Objective (such as develop a new product) and then use its corresponding KRs as inspiration for other teams’ Objectives. For example, if one of the top-level KRs is environmental regulations are met 100%, that could be cascaded down to another team or laddered across to another department — whoever is best suited to it. This KR then becomes their Objective, with its own corresponding set of KRs. This is a great way to align the entire company and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Switching gears a bit, consider consolidating individual concerns as one Objective rather than making each one a different KR. If you meet quality requirements, environmental regulations, and team member concerns, then what would happen? Is there a single metric of growth or change that would quantify success across all three of these arenas? This would be a great way to keep an eye on several challenges at once, without having an OKR the size of a shopping list. Need some examples? Check out this insert from John Doerr’s new book Speed and Scale.

Finally, OKRs are not the sum of all tasks and will not encompass everything you need to do. There will be some aspects of a project that won’t be specifically included in your OKRs, and that’s okay. Take some time and really consider: What are the most important indicators of a successful product launch? Assuming you’ve done this before, how did your last product launch go? What were your 3-4 biggest hurdles? Those should be the basis for your OKRs. For further clarification, may I suggest checking out our OKRs 101 series?

Conversely, were there any aspects you totally aced and feel you’ll have no problem aceing again? Feel free to leave those out. Remember, just because something is not directly stated in your OKRs doesn’t mean you won’t keep an eye on it or make sure it’s completed — it just won’t be considered top priority.

OKRs allow for flexibility and adjustment, so don’t feel you’re locked into something if it’s not working. Every company, team, and product is different — so it’s all about finding what works best for you.

Thanks for writing in, Federico, and best of luck to you and your team.

Billy from the What Matters Team