April 10, 2019
December 30, 2020
It goes without saying that you can’t successfully run a team without formally documenting goals and objectives. That’s just like a shot in the dark. The talented employees that you have would be of no use if they don’t have a common objective to look forward to.
Ever wondered how the giants of the industry slay the market with ever-growing revenues? The trick lies with OKRs.
What exactly are OKRs and how do they work, you might ask?
Read on to find out what do OKRs comprise and some practical examples which you can easily implement in your business to achieve more in less time.
The acronym OKR stands for ‘Objectives and Key Results.’ It is a goal-setting framework that has been around since the 1970s. Popularized by John Doerr, one of the most successful venture capitalists, OKR sets the basis for defining your organizational objectives over a specified period of time.
OKRs are frequently set and evaluated continuously during the project lifecycle to make sure everything gets done on time. They also act as future references to monitor how well you executed your projects.
So, the basic formula behind an OKR is to set an objective, and 3 to 5 key results against it. These key results are concrete, measurable actions that lead towards the achievement of objectives.
A major chunk of OKR is to make sure that everyone knows what they need to do, or what’s expected of them.
Now, this brings us to the question of how OKRs are different from KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)?
Although both of these are used as performance measures, the purpose they serve is different. KPIs are key metrics used for evaluating how a team is performing against its goals.
These metrics are usually quantitative in nature and tend to accurately depict where the output stands at the moment.
If we dig a little deeper, we would find that OKRs are linked to broader organizational goals and objectives, whereas KPIs are mostly tied to individual performance. KPIs are put in place to keep day to day operations in check, and to evaluate the success of a particular process or activity.
Simply put, the OKR framework focuses more on your priorities at a strategic level. Defining an objective and jotting down ways to get there. Whereas, KPIs primarily focus on quantifying goals and priorities to track performance at an operational level.
Setting an objective, along with possible outcomes, doesn’t sound like a big deal (it is, however), but the real game begins when you need proper action plans to achieve these objectives. This is where project management comes into play.
The action plan needs to determine the exact set of projects, tasks, and to-do list activities that you’ll need to map out for your objectives to become a success. There needs to be a defined way of making your way through your objectives to give them more meaning.
In other words, once you’ve clearly developed your OKRs, you need a step-by-step guide (projects and tasks) to help you achieve them. This step-to-step guide is what sets the basis for integrating your OKRs with project management.
Both OKR and project management go hand in hand. OKR gives a clear picture of what needs to be done, and project management shows how exactly to do it.
In order to effectively achieve your OKRs, you may need to invest in specialized project management software. When you’ve combined your OKRs with a powerful project management system, all your operations will be streamlined and will facilitate in easily measuring the project performance.
By now you’re probably wondering if there’s any practical example where OKR system actually worked. Good news for you! Here are some real OKR examples: Tech giants like Google and Alphabet claim to have achieved 10 folds growth through OKRs.
Google was introduced to OKR by John Doerr in 1990 when it was less than a year old. Google readily adopted the process and has been implementing it since then. Through OKR Google has grown from 40 employees to more than 60,000 today.
The company has OKRs at every level, ranging from the upper management level, down to the individual level. All of these are interconnected to achieve common organizational goals.
As your key results need to be measurable, Google uses a scale of 0-1.0 to grade them. But the aim is not 1, rather 0.6 to 0.7. If someone succeeds to get 1, their OKRs are not ambitious enough. Or are too easy, in other words.
However, if someone gets below 0.4, they need to look into what they’re doing wrong and push it harder to reach between 0.6 and 0.7.
Google OKRs are public so that every employee can see what others are working on.
Besides Google, other leading teams using the OKR system include Uber, Airbnb, LinkedIn, and Spotify.
Let’s start with some of the OKR examples to help you quickly get started with the process. For your convenience, we’ve divided them up into categories.
If your projects are product-based, you can use the following OKRs:
All thanks to nTask’s powerful features, you can easily implement your OKR strategy. Since ‘objectives and key results’ cycle the planning, deployment, and execution/ implementation phases, we wanted to make sure that professional project managers and individual contractors are getting fully-fledged user experience.
For any number of projects, we recommend that you should start planning on paper. Yes, that’s an actual piece of paper that we are referring to. It is too damn easy to use any task management program by getting started with adding teams to workspaces and then delegating.
However, many users are reportedly not aware of how the application works if they are exposed to it for the first time. For seamless transitioning, collaborate with your team members in person. As long as you are outlining the plan on a paper or a whiteboard, they will get the gist of where everything’s supposed to go.
Move on to nTask; add create teams and workspaces and add users to them accordingly. Then you need to fall back on your plan and apply it in the form of goals, meetings, projects, and milestones.
Remember that “Key Results” part about the best OKR examples? It is time to collaborate with your team members as the project slowly creeps towards a deadline. The process can be applied to tasks too.
We think that deadline management at tasks’ level is much better as compared to projects. Micro-management keeps everything in line. Collaboration may seem hectic on a project manager’s part, as he/she has to repeatedly get in touch with team members.
However, it is better to manage short deadlines rather than expecting to get things done by one final date at the end of the project submission.
Manage tasks, teams, projects, meetings, and more with nTask. It’s free – no questions asked.
One of the key takeaways in nTask is the Gantt Chart side of projects. These charts are interactive and evolve as the project milestones, dates, and other variables fall into place.
If you have been working on a project and need to see the visual form of your OKR workflow in process, switch to Grid view. There, you will see your unique Gantt Chart. It can be customized by dragging and dropping task/ project slabs.
Furthermore, task dependencies can be created – i.e. if Task 1 is dependent on Task 3 – so on and so forth. These features were added because we felt that Gantt Charts are an integral part of OKRs. The approach was slightly different because we wanted to enable our users as per the “interaction” experience kicks in.
To that end, you can use any other application if OKR is a vital part of your project’s grand strategy. Make sure you are comparing the program’s features to your requirements to avoid inconveniences in the long run.
OKRs require you to make a cultural change. As with any change, there are chances of error and mistakes. It can also be difficult.
To help with the process, here are some of the common mistakes and pitfalls organizations face when starting on an OKR journey.
OKRs should not be written once and then forgotten. You and your team must update the progress of your objectives and key results regularly.
Preferably the OKRs you set should be discussed weekly so that you can properly monitor progress.
With OKRs your objective should be to achieve 70%-80%. If your team members are reaching 100% your objectives aren’t challenging enough. You need to make sure that you have ambitious objectives.
At the same time if your team members are only achieving 30% there is a problem. Evaluate your employees and the objectives they set. You may come across some issues that could be resolved to get to the target objectives. Or, you may have set objectives that are too challenging and unrealistic.
You need to ensure that your key results are measurable. That is why they should be numeric.
Key results are what make your objectives measurable.
Focus on your priorities. Too many key results or objectives can take away from the important stuff.
While doing so, make sure the amount of work is manageable. This will also ensure it does not become too confusing.
In any workflow, the focus is one of your primary concerns besides meeting the deadlines. However, articulated objectives help to fulfill baseline target achievement. As a result, unnecessary objectives and distractions can be discarded. The focus remains unparalleled at the same time.
Resilience is a derivative of challenges and overall performance. There are a lot of factors that impact productivity – and that too when the nature of the industry itself is in question.
Let’s say, workers, are operating in an OSHA compliant environment where they do not feel stressed at the job. The challenges and time pressure associated with OKRs will result in increased long-term resilience.
OKRs provide a layer of transparency for targeted conversions to keep ongoing.
“Distributed” is a broad-spectrum term. It’s concept and derivatives change as per the specific work industry.
In a distributed setting, you need to set up workspaces with people who can give constructive input on achieving OKR-related goals and settings.
You will be able to “somewhat” achieve quantifiable results. Other than that, be wary of key roles of assignees, responsibilities, and deliverables to maintain a smooth process from point A to point B.
In a nutshell, OKRs provide organizational focus to your team and help in drastically improving productivity.
If you are already setting business and company goals using the OKR framework, share your views about it with us in the comments below.
Manage your team, tasks, projects and more on a single platform. Sign up today, it's free.