Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a goal-setting system that can be applied at any level, from the individual
to teams and large organizations. This system ensures the achievement of very big and daring goals by reaching
the Key Results established as necessary in this regard.
Therefore, we determine where we want to reach, what we need to accomplish to get there and focus on meeting the
established milestones within a set time frame. Applying Objectives and Key Results (OKR) takes you out of the
comfort zone and makes you learn both successes and failures. Properly applied this system helps you focus
extraordinarily well and, most of the time, to accomplish much more than you ever thought possible.
How did the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) emerge?
Andrew Stephen Grove (born András István Gróf; 2 September 1936 – 21 March 2016) is known as the "guy who
the growth phase" of Silicon Valley and also as "the father of OKR". In his book, High Output
has documented how he introduced the approach to Intel.
L. John Doerr (born June 29, 1951) learned about Objectives and Key Results (OKR) in 1975 while working at
Intel. In 1999 he introduced the idea to Google’s leadership and in 2018 he published the book Measure What
Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs, "a handbook for setting and
achieving audacious goals"
"OKRs have helped lead us to 10x growth, many times over. They’ve helped make our crazily bold mission
'organizing the world’s information' perhaps even achievable. They’ve kept me and the rest of the company on
time and on track when it mattered the most."
Larry Page, co-founder of Google
Objectives and Key Results (OKR), Committed vs. Aspirational
There are 2 variants of OKRs depending on the two types of goals one can set. We can have goals that must
necessarily be achieved and those we know we may not complete, but we want to move forward in that regard.
- Committed Objectives and Key Results are those goals whose fulfillment is very
important for the company.
Although they are more like business-as-usual they are needed to keep the company going and have better
results. Committed OKRs are also called roof shot goals
- Aspirational Objectives and Key Results are more visionary and ambitious and are about
aiming high. In this, if a 66-70% progress is achieved, they can be considered to be a success.
Aspirational OKRs are also called moonshots.
The Committed OKRs might be very challenging but are more realistic and to be a success, all the Key results
must be accomplished. Meanwhile, the Aspirational OKRs are probably impossible to achieve in the available
time frame and your resources should be evaluated before setting them.
Basic elements of the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) system
Goals, Objectives, Key Results, Initiative and Grades are the basic elements in the implementation of this
system for setting ambitious goals and tracking progress towards achieving those goals.
Goals in OKR
are the final and main results that must be achieved. Usually, goals are broadly
and have a long time-frame but it must be very ambitious. Here are some of the features that must define
goals, revealed in an interview for Betterworks by John Doerr
Objectives in OKR
- "Goals must be supported by the entire organization. Every team and working group should agree on
their goals and priorities.
- Goals must be measurable or have quantifiable targets. Maybe it’s shipping a certain number of
products or hitting a release schedule, but in any case, we have to be able to track and measure the
- Goals should be aggressive yet realistic. We want to stretch ourselves and stretch our teams, but not
to the point of breaking.
- Don’t tie the OKR goals to bonus payments, except for sales quotas. We want to build a bold,
can be viewed as an intermediate destination on the way to achieving the
Objectives are those that set a clear direction and provide motivation. Objectives must be bold but realistic
included in a time-frame. It also must be defined very specifically and formulated so that will push for new
achievements. A limited number of objectives is recommended, between 3 and 5. Objectives must be so
ambitious that they feel somewhat uncomfortable.
The objectives in the Objectives and Key Results system are given by the answer to the question "Where do
want to go?"
Key results in OKR
measure progress towards an Objective. About 3 key results are recommended
Objective. The key results should describe outcomes and must express measurable milestones, and should be
easy to grade with a number. Also, it should include evidence of completion.
The Key results in the Objectives and Key Results system are given by the answer to the question "How do
know if I’m getting there?"
describes the work you’ll do to influence a Key Result. It can represent tasks,
activities that should not be dependent on something or someone else, and their outcome should be a Key
There is a minimum 1 Initiative related to a specific OKR
The Initiative in the Objectives and Key Results system is given by the answer to the question “What will I
to get there?”
Each Key Result must receive a grade and then, using a rough average, the
is also graded. This way we can see how close we are to meeting the proposed objectives. When grading OKRs
following facts must be taken into account:
- On a scale from 0 to 1, an average of 0.6 to 0.7 across all OKRs is a satisfactory result.
- OKRs should not be treated as a comprehensive means of evaluating a person
- Organizational OKRs should be Publicly graded within the organization
- Intermediate check-in before assigning a final grade can be organized.
OKRs Cycle for company-team-contributor levels
- OKR implementation should begin 4-6 weeks before the beginning of the year and for the First Quarter.
This is done by senior leaders.
- Now it is advisable to establish what the company's annual plan is and which are OKRs for the first
- Two weeks before the First Quarter must be completed and communicated to everyone in the company which
are the OKRs.
- At the beginning of quarter 1, the teams must define their OKRs which must be based on the company’s
OKRs, and communicate them in their meetings.
- One week after the teams have communicated their OKRs, the contributors will need to establish and
communicate their own OKRs. This stage may involve negotiations between contributors and their managers
- During the quarter there will be meetings where contributors communicate the stage of their OKRS and
where appropriate adjustments are made
- One month before the beginning of quarter 2 starts brainstorming for the Second Quarter OKRs
- Two weeks before the second quarter must be completed and communicated to everyone in the company
which are the OKRs for the Second Quarter
- By the end of the quarter, the contributors score their OKRs of the First Quarter and reflect on what
has been achieved
- The process continues for the Second and Third Quarters.
To avoid when applying the Objectives and Key Results system
Several elements that can undermine internal values and create a confusing strategy, which is why it is
advisable to avoid them:
- Miscommunicating goals - each team must understand the other team goal-setting philosophy
- Business-as-usual OKRs - the OKRs must demand top efforts from the teams
- Sandbagging - OKRs must be bold and demanding in terms of a team effort
- Low-value objectives - OKRs should promise clear business value to make a difference
- Insufficient key results for objectives - it must include all that is needed to fully achieve that
"The benefits are profound. OKRs surface an organization's most important work. They focus effort and
coordination. They keep employees on track. They link objectives across silos to unify and strengthen the
company. Along the way, OKRs enhance workplace satisfaction and boost retention."
Benefits of Objectives and Key Results (OKR) system
By definition Objectives and Key Results system that helps companies to align company, team, and personal goals,
and ensure everyone is working collaboratively on goals that really matter.
Properly applied this system will bring the following benefits:
- Insights on company activities and report on progress
- Focusing everyone on what is really important to the company
- Engaging everyone and increasing productivity
- Data-driven and informed decisions
- A more organized, focused, and aligned working style