What is an OKR? Definition And Examples

What is an OKR? Definition And Examples

by Ryan Panchadsaram


Published on 12.26.2018

The definition of “OKRs” is “Objectives and Key Results.” It is a goal-setting tool used by teams to reach for their most ambitious goals with measurable results. OKRs are how you track progress.

OKRs were created by Andy Grove at Intel and taught to John Doerr by him. Doerr has taken up the OKR cause and introduced the philosophy to Google’s founders in 1999. Since then, many companies have adopted them, including Apartment Therapy, Netflix, and inspiring non-profits like Code for America.

No matter the industry, OKRs work the same for setting goals throughout many company levels.

Objectives are what you want your team to accomplish. Key results describe how you will do it. Objectives are significant and action-oriented. Key results are time-bound, specific, and measurable.

WHAT ARE SOME OKR EXAMPLES?

For our first example, let’s set an objective: “to build the world’s tallest building.” The tallest building in the world is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, so to achieve our objective, the building we are constructing needs to be taller. Our first key result would be: “building has more than 163 floors and is taller than 2,436 feet.” To ensure our project moves on time, we add more key results: “plans to be complete by November 2018”, “environmental review complete by March 2019”, “construction begins by December 2019”, and “building opens by January 2022”.

When written out, our OKR would look like this:

O: To build the world’s tallest building

  • KR1: Building has more than 163 floors and is taller than 2,436 feet
  • KR2: Plans to be complete by November 2018KR: Environmental review complete by March 2019
  • KR3: Construction begins by December 2019KR: Building opens by January 2022

Another great example comes from Measure What Matters, where John Doerr arrives at a young Google in 1999 to introduce his Objective of building a planning model for the new company. Written out, it looks like this:

O: Build a planning model for Google

  • KR1: Finish presentation on time
  • KR2: Create a sample set of quarterly Google OKRs
  • KR3: Gain management agreement for a three-month OKR trial

Where Can I Find More Information?

This system is deceptively simple, but when used properly, good OKRs will equip your organization with superpowers to create things like high output management in all your business goals. Learn more about OKRs by reading Measure What Matters or exploring more FAQs, Resources, and Stories right here on WhatMatters.com. Or, check out these free OKR tools here.


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