Starting out with Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) can be a stressful process, like getting prepared to go on a guided cave trip. The cave can be big and scary. It may be easier to stay out of it altogether and sit on the couch instead. But you’d be missing out on a great opportunity.
OKRs don’t have to be scary and the benefits of implementing them successful outweigh any initial unease. All it takes is a little know-how and looking at some good examples so that you can learn how to write your own.
So, what are OKRs again?
As a quick reminder, Objectives are your big, ambitious goals and Key Results measure the achievement of an objective. Weekly Plans are the tasks that help you reach your goals. Keeping these three separate will help you better tackle OKRs.
From the start it is important to have a good understanding of what you are trying to accomplish. Ask yourself the following questions when setting objectives:
- Does the objective help achieve company goals?
- Is the objective inspiring?
- Does the objective move the company forward?
- Is the objective timebound?
- Is the objective set for the end of the quarter or year?
It is also helpful to look at what objectives shouldn’t be:
- Objectives are not projects with sub tasks
- Objectives should not be easy
So, a good objective for increasing revenue would be:
- Achieve record 3rd quarter revenue growth
This is good, since it is aspirational, time bound and helps to move the company forward.
A bad example would be:
- Keep making revenue
This doesn’t work because it is not time bound, inspiring, and not forward-looking.
Key Results are the ways for you to measure your objective, so they are equally as important. They are the steps to meet your objective, and the root of your goals!
Key results should be:
- Lead to objective grading
- Be difficult, but not impossible
Key results should not be:
- Binary, they should be numeric and measurable
- Tasks to be achieved. Key results are metrics!
Some good examples of key results include:
- Generate $100k in new revenue
- Reduce customer churn in the first quarter from 15% to 10%
- Onboard 300 new clients
A not so great example would be
- Launch new line of business
This example is not measurable, nor is it clear how this will contribute to the objective.
For a good example of an OKR that is aspirational and moves the company forward, let’s look at the following:
Make our company go viral
- Generate 100,000 views on our youtube channel
- Get 10,000 new followers on instagram
- Increase organic search traffic to our website by 20%
Bad key results for this objective would include:
- Make videos for youtube,
- Get more Instagram followers
- Improve SEO
For a poor example, let’s use the objective:
- Design, create, and launch new product
With the key results:
- Interview 50 existing customers on what they would like to see for a new product line
- Create new product
The first key result is good, since it is measurable, but the objective could use some work and the second key result is not measurable at all.
For another example of mistakes made with OKR, we have this:
- Implement new outbound email campaign
- Write email copy to send to outbound leads
- Get a list of outbound leads
- Send email to everyone on list
This is not an objective with key results, but a project with a list of tasks to follow. Remember that objectives are large aspiration goals and KR’s are a quantifiable measurement of that goal.
It is also important to remember that OKR methodology isn't just about setting Objectives, but building a culture around it as well. Your weekly initiatives and plans should all help achieve your long term goals and you should update the progress of your Key Results regularly. OKRs should be discussed every week. Create a weekly ritual around them and discuss and review them with your team! Otherwise, at the end of the quarter, you may find that you are way off track!
With these examples and advice, hopefully you can get over some of your initial fears of OKRs and learn something new from journey. Of course, using an online tool like Weekdone to implement OKRs can always help you get on the right path. You can also check out OKRexample.co to see more examples of OKRs to help you get started