An introduction to OKRs

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are a management methodology that helps ensure that an organisation focuses its collective efforts on the same important issues throughout the organisation. Developed by Andy Grove at Intel and adapted by successful companies, including Google, Amazon, Netflix and Spotify, OKRs demonstrably establish a shared sense of responsibility and inspire the workforce to achieve a collective output infused with purpose. 

Objective: What do you want to achieve? 

Objectives establish the key goals your company is working to achieve. Objectives should be ambitious yet attainable, clear and measurable, transparent to all staff and aligned to your company’s overall mission. When objectives are well thought out and correctly designed, they can empower your organisation towards actually achieving them. 

Key Results: How will you get there?  

Determine the steps to reach the objective and monitor your organisation’s progress. Benchmark this against a standard—one that is high enough to be realistically achieved, but also challenging enough to bring out the best in your people. Key results should be specific, time-bound, aggressive yet realistic. They should be measurable and verifiable, with no ambiguity. That is to say that you either meet a key result’s requirements or you don’t—there is no grey area or room for doubt. 

Example:

Marketing OKR. 

Objective: Increase brand awareness. 

Key Result: Increase web visitors from 20,000 monthly to 40,000. 

Key Result: Achieve #1 place on Google search lists for five relevant keywords. 

Key Result: Increase social media engagement by 60%. 

Defining features of the OKR model 

  • Collaboration is key. When it comes to setting impactful OKRs, involving the team in the process through a brainstorming session is a fantastic way to create a sense of ownership and shared responsibility among the team. Transparency is established from the beginning.  
  • Less is more. A few thoughtful OKRs ensure that your team is able to work with clarity. For example, 3-5 OKRs per cycle (quarterly or annually) with 5 or less key results each is generally an optimal balance. 
  • No dictating. OKRs are a cooperative social contract to establish priorities and define how progress will be measured. 
  • Stay flexible. If the situation has changed and an objective no-longer seems practical or relevant, key results can be modified or even discarded mid-cycle. 

Good ideas with poor execution will forever remain ideas unrealised. By adapting OKRs, you are creating a clear, measurable, and attainable pathway to reaching your organisation’s mission. 

Adrienne from RD Consulting working on a laptop

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