OKR 101

Why the OKR framework is so compelling

Why do thousands of organizations, including industry giants like Amazon, Dropbox, Zillow, Google, and Netflix, use the objectives and key results (OKR) methodology? Because, with an emphasis on outcomes, rather than process, OKRs turn an organization’s strategic plans into results.

The OKR goal methodology was created by Andy Grove, the former president of Intel, then popularized by John Doerr in his book, Measure What Matters. Since that time, the framework has become ubiquitous in the business world as organizations look for ways to achieve measurable goals through company-wide alignment, agility, and transparency.

A solid OKR program will connect everyone’s goals together to ensure that each team member is striving for the same ultimate objectives. 

Why the OKR framework is unique

OKRs give you a path to success.

Other goal methodologies make it all too easy to “set and forget” goals. The OKR framework pairs measurable key results with a system of accountability and ownership so that goals get set, then achieved. Here’s how it works:

Objectives are what you want to accomplish.

Key Results describe how you will measure your success.

key results

By laying out the tactics of how an organization, team, or individual contributor will achieve objectives, key results make it more likely for goals to be reached. 

OKRs encourage innovation.

A good rule of thumb is that you want to hit 70% of your OKRs. That’s because there are two types of objectives: committed or aspirational. Aspirational objectives are a stretch, meaning they’re designed to be challenging and there’s a chance they won’t be met with success. That’s ok! A willingness to take risks is what drives innovation, which in turn drives business growth and opportunity.

Learn more about how OKRs help you build a risk-positive culture.

OKRs are for the whole organization. 

Unlike other goal methodologies, OKRs aren’t just for individuals or small teams. Instead, they work to align the entire organization around a common purpose. Objectives cascade down from the top to bottom, ensuring there is alignment at every level of the organization.

okr framework for company

OKRs are transparent.

Within an OKR program, every individual can see any objective or key result at any time (not just their own). This might feel like a bold — even brave — move, but it’s this radical transparency that makes an OKR program so successful.

By openly sharing the goals that we set out to achieve, we’re more likely to hold ourselves accountable to the results. We’re also more likely to spot opportunities to collaborate and share resources when we can see what our teammates are working towards. 

OKRs align with strategic priorities.

OKRs don’t just come out of nowhere; they’re derived from your company’s strategic priorities.

Because they align with long-term strategy, OKRs are amazingly effective at steering entire organizations towards the completion of their goals. This is a powerful benefit of the OKR framework, especially when compared to other goal setting methodologies that are better suited for short-term goals.

okr framework and development strategy

OKRs get buy-in early.

Organizations can achieve great things if everyone’s on board, marching toward the same goals. Since OKRs require goals to be developed from the top down, they ingrain executive support into the process, driving greater adoption and participation company-wide. ‍

That’s important, because when leaders support the OKR program, they assist in change management and drive increased alignment across the organization. Key leaders can also contribute to a culture of accountability and retrospection by visibly modeling and championing the OKR program.

OKRs increase employee engagement.

Companies with a highly engaged workforce are more profitable than companies with lower employee engagement scores. But what drives engagement? High performing teams (and thus high performing businesses) are fueled by a shared sense of purpose, mission, and goals. The OKR framework unifies an organization through clear, contextual goal setting and progress tracking.

OKRs lead to productivity and growth

How many times have you wished you could speed up a project, boost the productivity of your team, or increase revenue and profitability?

If you answered “three times…today,” then you’re not alone. If there’s anything organizations wish they had a magic wand for, it’d be to increase profitability and productivity. The two often go hand-in-hand, and – contrary to popular belief – the trick isn’t to work more hours or to keep wishing for it to magically happen. 

Instead, there are tried-and-true ways to achieve results. To accelerate the speed of execution in your organization, leaders must:

  • set ambitious goals
  • translate them into specific metrics and milestones
  • make them transparent throughout the organization
  • discuss progress frequently

That’s exactly what OKRs allow you to do. And it’s why so many organizations have reported that their teams and their company as a whole are achieving more than ever with OKRs.

okr framework

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