Objectives and key results (OKRs) is a powerful goal framework. We encourage you to Google the benefits of OKRs and why so many companies choose this as their goal framework of choice. If you are new to OKRs, the definitive source is John Doerr's Measure What Matters. You can read our take on it in our write-up from our bookclub session. Reading about how this framework drives results, alignment, transparency, etc will make it hard to resist. You can also read this message from Koan’s CEO about how OKRs inspire purposeful work -- this will give you all of the reasons why you will want to take advantage of this feature.
It’s easy to understand the value, but we know it can be harder to get going.
Whether you are new to the OKR framework or a seasoned practitioner, here are a few tips to make OKRs easy in practice:
- Cadence matters. Depending on the stage and size of your team/company, it may be better to have monthly, quarterly, or annual OKRs. Monthly OKRs are particularly useful within start-ups or small, low margin businesses. Annual OKRs work well within larger companies that are not anticipating a lot of change. Quarterly OKRs tend to be the sweet spot, especially during periods of growth or change.
- Less can be more. There is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to how many objectives and how many key results you set. Think carefully about what is reasonable, but challenging. Regardless of the cadence, if you have more than 3-5 objectives, you may create conflicts of priority. It can take a few tries to find the right quantity for your team, and that is okay. Just keep in mind that too many objectives likely mean the hard conversations about what is and isn't a priority likely are not happening.
- It doesn't have to be top down. If your executive team needs time to set company level OKRs, it's okay to let departments and teams proceed with their own independently. As company level OKRs are set, natural alignment will merge and key results can be linked. There is just as much benefit in a team having a clear understanding within their world of what matters most, as for teams to see what matters most as an entire company.
- The objective is a statement and the key results should include something you can measure beyond whether yes/no the key result is complete. Put another way, the objective is the statement of what you will do. The key results are the outcomes that tell you whether or not you have done it. The formula is truly that simple: We will ________ (Objective) as measured by ________ (Key Results). ****For example, maybe you are a growing software company. You might have a quarterly OKR as follows: We will make it easy to choose our product (objective) as measured by 200k ARR (key result one), 1m pipeline (key result two), and 10% activation rate for new sign-ups (key result three).
- Connect the dots. OKRs can help your team see how they fit into the larger picture. As you work on creating this line of sight, be sure to avoid the pitfall of turning key results int a task list. As a general rule, OKRs most often reflect something ambitious you are trying to get done, and not so much the day-to-day expectations of any one person't role. It can be a bit tricky to tie it all together, but sometimes the best thing is to help a member of your team understand why keeping the lights on is just as important as driving a big change.
If you are not ready to set-up OKRs, we recommend still starting with weekly reflections. You can add OKRs at any time. Whenever you are ready to track your OKRs in Koan, we have made it easy for you. Check out how to add OKRs, link objectives, and mark objectives as complete.
While we recommend OKRs as the most beneficial goal framework, we know it may not be the best fit for you and your team. We care most about your success and for this reason, we offer as few alternative configuration options.
And no matter what, we are here to help! We are happy to provide consulting, coaching, and assistance. If you have any questions, click the chat button on this page or drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.