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What is OKR?

OKR refers to Objectives and Key Results. OKR is a system used by big tech companies for goal setting. OKR is a straightforward way of measuring goals for a business, company, team and individual and importantly, aligning those stakeholders goals together, meaning all staff are working in one direction.

OKR: Goal setting using Objectives and Key Results

unsplash-logoEstée Janssens

Why use OKR?

OKRs are usually made up of 3-5 high-level objectives with 3-5 subsequent key measurable results under each objective.

According to McKinsey, many organizations find that the goal-setting process takes a huge amount of time and isn’t very effective. According to Harvard Business Review 95% of employees don’t know their company objectives and only half said their companies effectively aligned expectations between teams and bosses.

Conversely, goal setting remains vital for organisations. Committing to a goal can help improve employee performance and furthermore can enhance employee engagement and according to Ben Lamorte and Chris Mason, implementing OKRs even improved the bottom line at Sears:

OKRs led to higher levels of performance, including an 8.5% lift in hourly sales at a call center. Consistent use of OKRs resulted in an 11.5% increase in the chances of moving to a higher performance bracket…

Which companies use OKR?

It’s not just Silicon Valley tech companies that use this goal setting system. Spotify, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and concept founders, Intel use it, but others said to approach goal setting using OKRs are; ING Bank, The Guardian, Oracle, Walmart and the aforementioned Sears. Spotify actually abandoned OKRs in 2013:

In 2013, we decided to ditch our employee OKRs*.
Don’t get us wrong. We are into objectives and priorities and data and making sure everyone is moving in the same direction just as much as the next tech company is. But there were three main reasons why OKRs on an individual level were not doing all that for us:

1. Individual OKRs slowed us down without adding value
2. OKRs are about the how. Our focus is on the why.
3. Shit in, shit out

Getting started with OKRs

There are a number of good resources to learn more about OKRs. Including:

That last one features a superb example using Uber and also has an OKR template in Google docs.

Mike Jeffs

Author Mike Jeffs

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