Some of the world’s leading organizations have been using OKRs (objectives and key results) for decades to increase alignment and transparency across their business, allowing for better focus on the most important goals moving the organization forward. While there’s many popular goal-setting methods, there’s a reason companies like Google, Amazon and Microsoft are all using the OKR methodology.
Before we dive into what the big fuss is about, let’s start with the basics.
So what are OKRs? The goal-setting framework was designed by Andy Grove, former President and CEO of Intel, as a way to achieve measurable workplace goals through company-wide alignment, agility and transparency. OKRs were also made famous by investor and venture capitalist John Doerr, who wrote the book “Measure What Matters,” which discusses how OKRs helped tech giants like Intel and Google become the companies they are today.
In short, objectives are three to five company, team or individual goals that answer “what” needs to be achieved. They are qualitative, actionable, ambitious, and most all, time bound. Objectives should have three to five key results that answer “how” you are going to achieve something measurable. Click here for OKR examples and learn more OKR basics here.
Employees want to know the work they are doing matters to the company’s overall mission. When goals are shared throughout the organization, you’ll have the transparency you need so every employee feels connected and invested in the business.
With OKRs, goals drive the work that’s being done, not the other way around. If teams and individuals have a clear view of their goals and how they align with the company’s goals, they’ll stay more focused on the work that matters most to the business.
OKRs are updated and reviewed weekly or biweekly, instead of only quarterly or for annual reviews. Discussing goals on an ongoing basis keeps everyone focused on progress, and allows you to be flexible and pivot if the company’s priorities change.
When daily work revolves around core business goals, employees know what they should be working on and when. OKRs help each employee stay focused on the big picture so they can better prioritize their time to what matters most to the business. OKRs also provide clarity around the measurement of success so everyone can see progress of goals.
Driving meetings with OKRs allows your team to use that time to stay focused on the most at-risk work and discuss action items if necessary. OKR meetings also prevent the meeting from being sidetracked to conversations that aren’t of the utmost importance, so everyone is getting the best use of their time. By using weekly check-ins, status updates remain focused on the big picture, and ensure each conversation ends with clear action items.
When you use OKRs, company goals are available for everyone to see, creating clarity and transparency between peers and departments. When everyone knows each other’s main priorities, different teams can work together to make sure the right work is getting done at the right time, working cohesively to achieve broader goals.
The OKR framework lets individuals see how their work directly aligns all the way up to the company’s most important goals, giving purpose and direction to work. When individuals see how their contribution impacts the broader business goals, they’re likely to be more motivated and engaged with their work.
With weekly check-ins, key results and projects are continuously updated, meaning there’s always documentation into the daily work being done. This allows everyone to be able to drill into progress and address at-risk goals and the reason they are off track. The insight encourages conversations around tactics and priorities, helping teams determine how to move forward.
OKRs can provide a detailed view of the areas in which teams or individuals need more resources or support, improving work allocation for better efficiency.
Tracking OKR progress provides qualitative insight that can be used to help make business decisions. When teams are tracking goal progress regularly, leadership can get better insight into learning and development issues.
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