Objectives & Key Results (OKR)

OKR is a goal setting framework used by individuals, teams, and organisations to define measurable goals and track their outcomes.

OKRs comprise an objective (a significant, concrete, clearly defined goal) and 3-5 key results (measurable success criteria used to track the achievement of that goal).

Not only should objectives be significant, concrete, and clearly defined, they should also be inspirational for the individual, team, or organisation that is working towards them. Objectives can also be supported by initiatives, which are the plans and activities that help to move forward the key results and achieve the objective.

Key results should be measurable, either on a 0–100% scale or with any numerical value (e.g. dollar amount or percentage) that can be used by planners and decision makers to determine whether those involved in working towards the key result have been successful. There should be no opportunity for “gray area” when defining a key result.

From the perspective of organisational transformation, it is worth considering, whether the implementation of an OKR approach to managing the change could support the definition of the new priorities and to reinforce new routines.

Pros

  • They focus individuals, teams and the organisation on goals that deliver business impact.
  • They encourage regular follow-ups and progress checks.
  • They are measurable.
  • They align everyone to shared objectives.

Cons

  • If OKR’s are added at an individual level they can increase complexity.
  • Updating and tracking can result in increased workload or the need to implement special software.
  • Organisations tend to set too many OKR’s, which negatively impacts the intended effect of alignment and focus.

Recommended resources:

Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs; Doerr John, 2018, ISBN 0525536221

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