OKR is a goal-setting methodology that promotes focus, transparency, accountability and alignment. It’s a process that starts with senior leadership.
A key to success is to make sure the objectives and key results align with company strategy. If a key result is not working, it needs to be refocused.
Set Your Objectives and Key Results
The first step in the OKR process involves setting directional, outcome-oriented goals for yourself, your team, or your organization. For example, one culture OKR might be “Increase user engagement through upsells and cross-sells.”
Then, you need to identify the key measurable results that will help make your Objectives a reality. These are called Key Results and they should be specific, measurable, and achievable in the timeframe you have set.
Ideally, you will also assign an owner for each Key Result to ensure that everyone is on the same page about what needs to get done and who is responsible for tracking progress. This helps prevent a situation where an individual or group is working on a goal that isn’t going to achieve the desired outcome and may even be hindering the success of other objectives. This is a big reason that OKR focuses on setting up to three key results for each Objective. More than that can be overwhelming and doesn’t provide a clear focus or inspire.
If you want to make OKR a success, it’s essential that everyone gets involved. This includes leaders, teams, and individual employees.
Start by creating departmental, group or team objectives. Then, identify key results for those objectives. These key results should be measurable, verifiable, time-bound, and specific. They should also be junior goals/contributing goals with respect to the top-level objective of the company or department.
Then, map out the initiatives that will help you achieve the key results. This will provide a clear path to your destination (AKA the objective).
Next, decide how you’ll roll out OKR across your organization. There are several ways to do this, including: a top-down approach where your leadership team pilots OKR before it’s rolled out to other departments and teams. Another option is to go all-in and introduce OKR across your entire organization at once. Lastly, you can also roll out OKR department by department. This helps to ensure consistency and promotes buy-in.
Track Your Progress
The key to success with OKR is having a clear framework that is shared with the entire company. This helps everyone understand how the objectives and key results relate to each other and where they fit into the larger company goals, mission, or purpose.
Each objective should be measurable and have one or more key results that quantify the objective. It is also important to ensure that each key result follows the MECE (mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive) principle, meaning it covers as many aspects of the objective as possible.
Having clear and ambitious objectives will help your team stay focused on the goal at hand. To keep momentum going, make sure to hold quarterly reviews where your team can discuss their progress, highlight accomplishments, and discuss challenges in a positive and constructive way. You can also incorporate feedback sessions into these meetings to reinforce the right behavior and redirect if necessary. This will help to create a more productive and results-driven culture at all levels of the organization.
Measure Your Success
Getting the most out of OKR requires consistent communication and frequent check-ins. For this reason, it’s important to set quarterly objectives at the company level and monthly goals at team levels, along with weekly progress review meetings.
It’s also important to make sure the objectives are clear, engaging and ambitious. Keep in mind that you can break down larger objectives into smaller, more manageable key results-so long as the key result has a clear timeline and someone oversees it.
The next step is identifying the right metrics to measure your success. It’s best to use quantitative KRs that can be measured in terms of number (e.g. increase web traffic to 2 million users per month) and qualitative KRs that are date-focused like “send out new product announcement email by the end of the quarter.” You can even automate these measurements by linking your KRs to your objective’s progress, so it automatically updates every time one of your key results changes.