OKR is a goal-setting framework that creates accountability, transparency and focus across the organization. It leads to greater employee engagement which results in better company outcomes.
Implementing OKR takes time and effort. Like any new process, it is best introduced slowly and with a dedicated tool like Weekdone. The most successful implementations start with leadership being a role model for their teams and the whole company.
OKR stands for objectives and key results, a goal-setting methodology that helps teams set measurable goals. The process is meant to encourage focus and alignment across the organization.
The first step in implementing OKR is to identify your organizational objectives. These should be attainable but ambitious, and should align with your overall strategy.
Once you have your objective, it’s time to identify the key results that will help you reach it. Each key result should be measurable, so you can track your progress throughout the quarter.
It’s important that each key result has one owner, so everyone on the team knows who to hold accountable for achieving it. You can assign an owner by clicking on Add in the Child objectives and key results section of an objective.
The Key Results of an OKR are the specific metrics that will measure progress toward achieving your Objective. These are measurable, actionable and time-based, a combination that creates alignment and accountability across teams.
Ideally, the Key Results of an OKR are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive—this means that each of these metrics fully accounts for what is required to achieve the Objective. Each Key Result should also be Measurable, Attainable and Realistic (MARR), which ensures that they are not overly ambitious or impossible to attain.
Lastly, the Key Results should be Time-Based and Measurable—this means that they should be measurable by quarter, month or week. By regularly checking in on your KRs, you can see how well you are meeting your Objective and if any adjustments need to be made.
Defining and communicating an organization’s strategy through OKR is a powerful change. It creates clarity and focus, focuses everyone on the right things at the same time and connects them to the company’s purpose. It also accelerates continuous learning and drives faster performance.
Each objective should have a clear, responsible party that will be held accountable for the success of each key result. This prevents “intellectual juggling” and makes it easier to track progress. For example, a Product leader would be the DRI for an OKR such as increase users by 100%.
The process of reviewing and closing an OKR at the end of a quarter forces teams to pause and collect and share lessons learned. It helps them to move on with a fresh mindset before they begin working on something new. This is key for organizational growth. Learn more about OKR best practices in this Microsoft Viva blog post with tried-and-true guidance from OKR Champions.
The goal-setting framework OKR is based on has its roots in MBO (Management by Objectives). Andy Grove created OKR at Intel and passed the methodology to John Doerr. Today, many companies use this framework to achieve success. These include Google, Allbirds, Apartment Therapy and inspiring nonprofits like Code for America.
The OKR process starts with the definition of your company’s strategy, outlined by an Ultimate Goal and Strategic Pillars. Then, you set up an alignment process that links different company levels and teams to create aligned OKR sets.
Each quarter, you start with a brief OKR recap meeting to evaluate how well your team performed. You can host these meetings top-down with your leadership team, or department by department. Additionally, managers should integrate OKRs into their one-on-one meetings with direct reports. This helps to keep everyone focused on the right priorities and avoids time spent on tasks that don’t add value. Finally, each OKR cycle ends with a reflection to learn from successes and shortcomings.
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