Dear Andy

I am designing a strategy that will need to be shared with the company within a week. I have a couple of questions:

Do individuals in the business need OKRs? Or, do they rely on what they need to do based on team OKRs? Does the “executive team” need team OKRs?

It would be incredibly helpful to receive a response based on what best practices are.

Thank you!
Felicia

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Hi Felicia,

Thanks so much for writing in and for your great questions.

There is no hard and fast rule about who ‘needs’ to do OKRs. Our general recommendation is the fewer (but higher-quality) OKRs a company has the better. OKRs are about collective commitment, and we find goals that reflect shared outcomes are most effective. If a top-level OKR isn’t specific enough to guide everyone’s actions, add another layer for teams. When another level of specificity would help, consider adding yet another layer - all the way down to individual OKRs. Don’t feel pressure to go to the individual level right away just for the sake of having them. Less is more!

Conversely, if doing OKRs on the individual level isn’t adding value, feel free to go back to doing them only at a broader level next time around. Part of the beauty of OKRs is that they’re written in short-term cycles, so flexibility is built in.

As far as the executive team goes, their OKRs are the top of the cascade and are critical to aligning the whole organization around top priorities. We strongly encourage the executive level to collaborate on topline OKRs—it has ripple effects throughout the whole organization. Sometimes, executives have specific priorities that are their sole responsibility. If they find it helpful, they can write their own OKRs. But again, don’t write OKRs simply for the sake of having them.

Every company and team is different. Allow yourself to figure out what works best for you, and, again, don’t be afraid to adjust your OKR practices cycle to cycle. It may seem overwhelming at first, but if you start small and build from there, you’ll find your team utilizing OKRs effectively and efficiently sooner than you might think.

Thanks for writing in and best of luck to you and your team on your OKR journey.

Sincerely,

Billy from the What Matters team

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