After watching the video or reading this article, you will be able to work with your team to come up with some inspiring and meaningful goals.
OKRs is a goal setting framework composed of two parts: objectives and key results.
- Objectives are what you're trying to accomplish. They should be qualitative and inspiring. Aim for just 1-3 objectives per team. More than that, and you risk having so many priorities that you have no priorities.
- Key results are how you measure whether you've accomplished your objectives. They should be measurable and verifiable. It should be very black and white whether it's done. Avoid "yes/no" as your measurement and push yourself to identify a number to measure. Aim for 3-5 key results per objective.
A simple template for writing OKRs:
We will __(Objective)__ as measured by __(these Key Results)__.
A few pro tips:
- Start by asking your team (and peers and boss): "What are the three most important things for us to accomplish in the next three months? Why is this important?"
- Put draft objectives in front of your team and ask them to write a better version.
- Brainstorm key results with the team and let your team members identify which key results they want to lead.
- Not everything should be an OKR. Some work is to keep the lights on, business as usual. Reserve OKRs for the efforts that will really move the business forward.
- OKRs work best when each team sets their own. The OKR process works best when it draws on expertise at every level of the organization to help the company win.
- Don’t “cascade” OKRs down the org chart. If all your goals fit together into a pretty parent/child tree, you’re doing it wrong. Instead, “align” your OKRs with a bottom-up process. You want OKRs to connect, not cascade.
- Publish OKRs publicly. Transparency of OKRs will help drive alignment.
- Don't link OKRs to performance management, doing so stifles the innovation needed to push your business forward.
A few questions to ask to avoid the most common pitfalls:
- Are there too many? Too few?
- Do they represent tasks rather than outcomes?
- Are the targets realistic?
- Are they ambitious enough?
- Do we have the resources we need to deliver?
The more you challenge each other, the more likely your OKRs will be incredible.
A few things we have heard ourselves say during our OKR planning process here at Team Koan to push ourselves toward incredible:
- “You don’t have goals, which means you haven’t formalized priorities for your team. That’s crazy.”
- “Can everyone on your team say the goals without thinking really hard?”
- “You have too many goals. Seriously.”
- “Your goals don’t seem that important. Will achieving them mean transformative progress?”
- “There don’t have to be goals to represent all the work getting done.”
- “Do your goals create more or less autonomy on your team?”
- “Good difficulty = ‘I’m pretty sure this is possible, but not sure how yet’”
- “You just implement what Product says to do? That doesn’t sound like a very interesting job for you or your engineers.”
YES! It is okay to change your goals mid-cycle.
- Sometimes you’ll learn something new that wildly changes initial assumptions. In that case, change the goal.
- Sometimes you’ll realize a different goal is actually more important. In that case, cancel the goal and set a new one.
- Sometimes the team isn’t executing well. In that case, leave the goal and change the deadline.
And, some final advice:
- Whenever possible, let team members decide which key results they’ll lead.
- Make it ok to deliver bad news and encourage it to be early. “If you tell me there’s a problem 2 weeks before the deadline, it’s my problem. If you tell me there’s a problem 2 days before deadline, it’s your problem”.
- Goal confidence ratings are subjective, but set some norms about what they mean to your team.
- Goals are not the same as the plan. Link a plan to each key result so that everyone has visibility into how the goal will be achieved.
- Rate each goal every week.
- Make it ok to stretch and fail.
Finally, remember that it's important to celebrate WINS and learn from FAILURES.
- Celebrate when you win by providing public recognition of the leads and supporting players. Use the opportunity to connect the win to the bigger picture of why it matters.
- Have retrospectives: “what went well, what didn’t, how can we improve the goal setting process the next time?