Key results measure how far from reaching your objective you are. It adds metrics to objectives. The easiest way to set Key Results is to follow the SMART model.
SMART is a methodology that sets criteria to the tasks you set. The KRs must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. The questions you need to ask for each goal are:
- Specific: is the KR well-defined and understandable for everyone?
- Measurable: can you measure success or failure?
- Achievable: is it realistically possible to do?
- Relevant: is this KR important for your objective?
- Time-bound: have I clearly established when the goal must be met? For OKRs this time is usually one quarter.
Objectives and Key Results work because they solve the main problem with goal setting: ambiguity.
When you use OKRs, everyone understand what they have to do, what others have to do, and how everyone’s individual tasks help them move forward as a team.
Objectives should be qualitative and describe the desired outcome. For example, look at the goal: understand customer needs. There is no need to have numeric metrics for objectives (you’ll have those with key results).
You can see a lot of examples of different OKRs for different teams at http://okrexamples.co/
OKR is a simple process of setting company, department, team, and personal goals and connecting each goal with 3-5 measurable results. As you achieve those results, the whole objective feeds into overall completion. It’s all about focus, so only any level you should limit yourself to 3-4 objectives, not more. There’s a bunch of great examples of OKRs at okrexamples.co.
The birth of OKRs can be traced back to Peter Drucker, one of the first managerial thinkers, who, in the 1950s introduced a system called “Management by Objectives” (MBOs) that called for setting objectives for everyone who works in a company. These goals had to “lay out what contributions a given individual and their unit are expected to make to help other units obtain their objectives.”
Andy Grove, CEO of Intel, reshaped the MBO system into a simpler form that answers the questions:
- Where do I want to go?
- How will I pace myself to get there?
He also suggested objectives should be set more frequently, on a quarterly or monthly basis, as the fast-paced world requires constant feedback. He also believed multiple performance management tools should be used in conjunction with OKRs. Finally, he believed OKRs should be stretch goals and achieving them 100 percent should be next to impossible. Having gotten a lot of leadership lessons from Grove, John Doerr introduced the system to Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google.
No. OKRs can be implemented in a company of any size. The core principles of the methodology (Objectives with measurable Key Results) can be scaled for one person or for huge companies.
The easiest way to get started with OKRs is to start using them.
There are a lot of resources you can read and watch before, but to understand how they work, they need to be tested on your team.
It is very common to finish your first quarter with mostly 100% or with mostly zeros, especially if you had no prior experience in setting OKRs. It’s important to remember that OKRs are not a project you run for 3 months. To work well, they must be used constantly and the progress must be improved every quarter. In 3 or 4 quarters, you should have a clear idea on how they work and most of your KRs should fall into the 70% category. Then you’re all set.
Moonshot or stretch goals are goals that seem impossible to achieve. They should force teams and individuals to rethink how they work and take you out of your comfort zone.
They should make everyone involved wonder, how far you can go.
In general you should have 3 – 5 Objectives that each have 3 – 5 Key Results. But this is not set in stone. You just have to keep in mind, that more objectives means less focus. 3 Objectives with 3 KRs have 9 KRs to follow, 5 Objectives with 5 KRs is 25 and that’s not realistically doable in a quarter.
To get the best results OKRs should be aligned to one another. Each part of your company must know what’s going on and how each part contributes to the whole. Our belief is that in order to get all the employees in your company working as one, they all should share an aligned, hierarchical tree of objectives and key results.
Ask our OKR experts any question about Introduction to OKRs.