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OKR 101

What are OKRs?

The OKR (Objectives and Key Results) goal-setting framework was designed by Andy Grove, former President at Intel, as a way to achieve measurable workplace goals through company-wide alignment, agility, and transparency.

Organizations use OKRs to set lofty, ambitious goals at the top of the company, then cascade these goals down, across all levels, to influence the contributions and output of teams and individuals.

The OKR method is used to drive strategic direction and focus on work that matters, enabling everyone in the organization to move together to achieve common goals.

Alignment OKRs

OKRs start with setting an objective

Objective Setting

Next up: key results

Once your objective is defined, key results are used to identify the measurable steps a team or individual will take to achieve that objective.

There are two types of key results: 

  • Metric-based (most common): Track quantitative outcomes designed to gauge success on an objective
  • Milestone-based: Used to convert binary outcomes to key results (Did this key result get done or did it not?)

OKR Formula

Here is an example of a strong OKR:

OKR Example

OKRs are typically set on an annual and quarterly basis, and will be defined at every level of an organization—starting with the top, senior management, then cascading down to every team and individual. This process of cascading goals creates strong alignment across teams and ensures everyone in the company is working in harmony to achieve the same outcome.

Unlike other traditional goal-setting methodologies, OKRs enable a very specific goal-setting process.

All OKRs should be…

Ambitious 

By setting stretch goals, you push boundaries and accomplish more. 

Measurable

OKRs are all about metrics—by setting measurable key results, companies can more easily assess progress of initiatives, and understand whether they achieved their goal.  

Transparent

The OKR framework is more than goal-setting, it’s a framework that requires a cultural shift to tear down traditional silos and business walls—and instead, foster a culture of transparency, where all goals are open, and progress is viewable by everyone.

Controllable

When you create a new objective, it is with the understanding you possess the means to realize it. OKRs can generate cross-functional coordination, but your objectives should primarily be within your control.

Scored 

By grading OKRs at the end of every quarter, contributors and teams can understand how well they did at achieving their goal. This process also opens healthy conversation on what could have been done differently, and what they can do better next time.

These conversations are learnings, and should never be taken negatively—but instead, as ways to review progress, and grow as a team and company.

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