Let’s Start Writing

Ok, everyone… open up that notebook, grab a pen and paper, pull up that empty Word document – however you brainstorm best – it’s time to apply what we’ve been talking about. Now we’re going to get some Objectives out and into the world.

Before we begin, let me just reiterate that OKRs are meant to be written, rewritten and even completely scrapped if they’re not working for you. So while beginning anything from scratch can be daunting, it’s all just part of an ongoing process. Let’s begin!

Consider Your North Star

As we’ve talked about, Objectives come from, and are inspired by, your mission. The mission is usually the big, pie-in-the-sky thing that everyone is working together to achieve. And Objectives are the goals that are the most important things you need to do to achieve that mission. They’re the rallying cries for your team for the next cycle. John and I sometimes refer to your most top-level Objective as your team’s “North Star.”

So, take a moment and jot down your team’s North Star. It’s usually the first, biggest step you can take.

Consider the company Allbirds. They have a mission to make better, eco-friendly footwear. Or, as they say it, “Make better stuff in a better way.” To get there, their top-level Objective is to have the lowest carbon footprint in their industry.

TO DO: Identify a North Star, or top-level Objective, to guide you.

Gather Your Priorities

To brainstorm a bit more and fill out a list of possible Objectives, let’s zero in on the things that are most pressing for the next 30-90 days. Whenever I’m doing this, I ask myself the following questions:

  • What are the most important things that we need to get done?
  • What do we need to start doing or changing?
  • What does success look like?

TO-DO: Using the questions above, brainstorm a list of possible Objectives. If you write more than five, narrow it down to the most important three for now.

Check Your Work

Ok! Now that we’ve got some Objectives on paper, let’s just run them through a few checks to make sure that we’re starting off in the best position possible!

Are you wondering if your Objectives are good? See if you can confidently say these statements about all the Objectives you wrote:

  • My Objective describes meaningful change from where we are now. Not quite there? Try stretching beyond “business as usual” for your team. An Objective should be audacious enough to describe real growth without being totally unrealistic.
  • My Objective is concise and uses simple language. It will inspire my team. Not quite there? Try shedding some words and boiling down the sentence to the most essential parts. Memorable Objectives are inspiring Objectives!

TO-DO: Check your Objectives against the spot-checks above. Adjust them if they’re not passing the test.

Alright! How did you do? We always encourage sharing your Objectives with others for feedback. Now’s a great time to talk these over with a peer or manager.

Looking for more inspiration? Jordan and Lisa are here with an example you can follow along with to go deep on what the thought process looks like for writing great Objectives:

Additional Resources & Further Reading