OKRs: Adopting Objectives and Key Results

I’ve been looking for a way to up my and my team’s game as competitive pressures, deadlines and customer demand increases. 

OKRs got their start and Intel and made their leap to Google, LinkedIn and other valley companies. In a nutshell: An OKR is a qualitative objective that’s inspirational and some challenging quantitative key results that measure your progress against that objective.

It’s a simple concept, but there’s a lot of nuance to make it something that drives your team forward. Otherwise it’s just another way of doing MBOs.

Here’s my highlights thus far:

  • Objectives should be qualitative and inspirational, time bound (a quarter, a year, etc.), and can be achieved independently by the team.
  • Key results quantify the inspirational language, they are measurable
  • Key results should be hard — the sweet spot is when the team is 50% confident they can achieve it. More confident and you are not driving growth, less confident and your team will give up.
  • Key results should be something that happened because of what you did, not what you did. Good: Customer satisfaction score increases by 10% vs. Bad: Meet with customers, devise features that will please them, implement them.
  • OKRs should result in failure — If the team is achieving all the key results then they were set too low. Most companies and teams are extremely failure averse. If you adopt OKRs, you have to set the stage culturally with the team and with your management above you that you are going to try hard things and miss
  • OKRs are not a performance review. The quickest way to keep people from aiming high is to punish them for missing.
  • OKRs shouldn’t change during the Objective’s time box. OKRs should help focus the team.
  • Start small: One OKR per company with supporting OKRs per team
  • “OKRs are not the only thing you do, they are the one thing you must do.  Expect people to keep the ship running.”
  • OKRs at every level should be available publicly.

Here’s some sources to learn more about OKRs

About Chris

Python developer, Agile practitioner trying desperately not to be a pointy haired boss.
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