Why use OKRs? I have goals

Why use OKRs? I have goals

by Ryan Panchadsaram & Sam Prince


Published on 06.27.2019

Excellent. You have goals. OKRs (objectives and key results) can help you achieve those goals—no matter what kind they are.

Whether you are looking to improve your individual goals, your company goals, or are suggesting a new management tool to other leadership, OKRs will work. That's because as John Doerr, the evangelizer of OKRs, said in "Measure What Matters", "Ideas are easy. Execution is everything."

The OKR process helps turn good ideas into great execution. They tighten employee engagement and drive high performing teams. Those who have adopted OKRs include companies like Allbirds, Google, Netflix, and more.

OKRs help you articulate your goals

The first step of using OKRs is to define your Objective. Really audacious goals make fantastic objectives.

An Objective is simply what is to be accomplished. It should be a crisp, one-line statement that is meaningful, action-oriented, and, ideally, inspirational.

Once you’ve defined your objective, you have to articulate how you are going to achieve it. For this particular goal, think of 3-5 key results that best chart your path to accomplishing it. Key results should be specific and time-bound. They should be measurable and able to be assigned a grade at the end of the OKR cycle. For example, a goal might simply be: “Improve sign-ups." But an OKR would be: “Improve weekly sign-ups by 15% by December 1.”

The rest of this OKR would be written like:

  • O: Become the #1 free mobile banking app for developing countries.
  • KR1: Improve weekly sign-ups by 15% by July.
  • KR2: Launch a marketing campaign in every language by August.
  • K3: Establish at least one ATM-access point across all countries by September.

Now that you have a bold objective and trackable key results, you can get to work. Just be sure that others know about it. OKRs must be transparent.

OKRs help you track and measure progress

Track your progress on a regular basis. Ideally weekly. Record how you are doing towards your key results. There are various tools to help expedite this but a Google Sheet or something similar will work for smaller companies. You can check out our official ones here.

Some team members also like to hold a weekly or monthly all-office WINS meeting where people can update everyone on their OKRs or give shout outs. Companies like Apartment Therapy and Zume Pizza do this and it not only helps with the completion of OKRs, but also company culture, too.

OKRs help you reassess and stretch

One important thing to remember, however, is that OKRs are not written in stone. At any point within an OKR cycle, typically a quarter, feel free to revise, add, or delete OKRs as appropriate. It’s counterproductive to hold stubbornly to objectives that are no longer relevant or attainable.

But no matter what, at the end of each OKR cycle, you should look at your key results and determine if you accomplished them or not.

If you have not, then this is an opportunity to ask yourself if the key results you chose need to be adjusted. Were the challenging objectives too ambitious? With what you know now, how can you make your key results audacious, yet realistic?

If you have, then you can celebrate, you have reached your objective. This an opportunity to stretch goals and commit to an even bolder objective with even more aggressive key results. It may even be time to implement an aspirational OKR, also known as a "moonshot." It's a kind of OKR that helps move teams from smaller steps to moonwalks.

If you're interested in learning more about those, click here.

Where can I get more information?

OKRs are a power goal-setting tool used by teams to reach for their most audacious goals. If you want to learn more about OKRs, read "Measure What Matters" or explore more Stories, Resources, and FAQS right here.

Or, if you happen to be on the hunt for an OKR coach to help with implementing OKRs, check this out.

Ryan Panchadsaram (@rypan) is the co-founder of WhatMatters.com and is the technical advisor to John Doerr at Kleiner Perkins.

Sam Prince (@samprincetweets) is a journalist, storyteller, and the content strategist of WhatMatters.com. 


MORE

FAQ

Cascading OKRs will help align the various teams and individuals across your company toward the same overall goals. Here are some examples.

FAQ

What is a good number of OKRs to have? When it comes to objectives and key results, what to focus on can seem like an objective itself. Here’s the answer.

FAQ

"OKR" stands for "objective and key result." OKRs are a goal-setting tool that helps figure out what you want your team to accomplish and how to do it.

FAQ

Are you looking for an OKR coach, speaker, or author? Let John Doerr and the "Measure What Matters" team guide you through OKRs with FAQs, Resources, and Stories.

FAQ

If you’re looking for paid ways to scale OKR adoption and usage across a company these tools might be something to look into.

FAQ

Organizations that are mission-based can be rewarding but it can be easy to drift from the original mission. Learn how OKRs are great for keeping nonprofits on-track.

FAQ

OKRs are great for software engineers because they prioritize ideas and assign metrics to completion. Get inspired by these real-world software engineering OKR examples here.

FAQ

The 5 key benefits of OKRs include focus, alignment, commitment, tracking, and stretching. Learn more about each of them and how they work here.

FAQ

A well-defined company purpose provides a clear vision and inspiration for your team. Learn how to find your company's mission with these strategies.

FAQ

“OKRs” stands for Objectives and Key Results. They are a tool used by individuals, teams, and companies like Google for setting ambitious goals.

FAQ

OKRs can be used for office administration to help improve productivity and efficiency across your entire operation. Learn how with these examples.

FAQ

If you’re approaching the end of on OKR cycle, it may be time to refresh on how to grade them. Here are some examples of how.

FAQ

Pairing quantity and quality key results is a great strategy to strengthen OKRs. Learn how to do it with these examples.

FAQ

OKRs are great for setting personal goals outside of the office. Learn how to use them to think through unambiguous life goals.

FAQ

Bottom-up OKRs sparks innovation by freeing individual employees to be creative. Here are some examples.

FAQ

If you’re feeling that your OKR cycle is not working, take a step back and try to pinpoint the problem. Here are 7 ways to do that.

FAQ

Committed or aspirational OKRs both serve different purposes and have separate ways they can be acted upon. Learn how here.

FAQ

What free tools and software are available for tracking OKRs? If you're looking for a budget-friendly way to commit to transparency, here are some ideas.

FAQ

What are some examples of OKRs and how do I write them? Get ideas for bettering your OKRs or compare your current ones to gain insight.

FAQ

Company-wide OKRs help align teams and provide clarity throughout entire organizations. Spark inspiration for your company with these examples.

Hear from John

Get updates and exclusive access to content.

Hear from John

Get updates and exclusive access to content.