OKRs describe where we want to be, not where we currently are.
Consider this example when making sure your Objectives are not “business as usual.”
A marketing team at a software company is responsible for delivering new leads to their sales team. When considering possible Objectives, the Marketing Director jotted down the following possible Objectives:
- Check in regularly with the Sales Director.
- Define the best process for getting leads.
- Increase our website traffic each quarter.
- Get Sales and Business Development to agree on a conversion rate.
After taking a second look, it wasn’t quite clear how these Objectives described meaningful change. In other words, these four Objectives described “business as usual” — nothing much different than what would be happening on any given day for her team.
As she refined, she landed on these Objectives:
- Restructure the website to focus on converting “users” into leads.
- Develop a content marketing plan that doubles our blog traffic.
- Co-author a lead conversion plan with the Sales Director.
With these Objectives, the Marketing Director is reaching beyond what is currently happening at her organization and describing changes she’d like to see and things she’d like to get done. With this clarity, she should easily be able to find some Key Results that can make these Objectives a reality while also being clear with her team about what needs to happen next.
Even after setting OKRs, it may be easy to settle back into business as usual, but there are some indicators you can use to make sure that’s not happening.
Do you tend to skip OKRs at your team meetings? Does most of the team conversation revolve around maintaining the status quo? If so, renew your focus on your OKRs. Or maybe even check to see if you’ve got the right OKRs. If they don’t seem important, they might not be.
- OKRs are not “the sum of all tasks.” They describe what needs to change. In other words, they’re not “business as usual.”
- Everyday tasks and OKRs can live together. Your existing processes and KPIs can live alongside your OKRs.
- You’ll see indicators that you’re working against your OKRs if you tend to skip them at team meetings or attention reverts to maintaining the status quo.
Additional Resources & Further Reading
- Article: Anchoring OKRs to Your Mission
- Resource: OKRs and BHAGs: What’s the Difference?
- Article: Learning New Languages with OKRs: Clear Goal-Setting Turns a New Product from Failure to Success
- For a deeper dive on using OKRs within your organization and earn your OKR Certification in our Coursera course.