Executing Your Organisation’s Strategy with OKRs
Learn more about Just3Things for OKRs
Why Use OKRs?
If you’ve been in any way involved in the re-vamp of your organisation’s goal-setting and strategy methodology in the past five years, you’ve likely heard of the Objectives and Key Results framework, known universally by the shorthand of OKRs. Born at Intel over thirty years ago and famously adopted across Google, OKRs are currently used by both nimble start-ups and well-established multinationals to contextualise an organisation’s strategy and help employees at every level understand their role in executing it.
OKRs have become popular for a variety of reasons, but chief amongst those is clarity. OKRs require clear, straightforward language, ownership, and the ability to track and measure outcomes with quantitative terms. If written and socialised properly, they are an excellent way to align the entire organisation to the broader strategy of your company.
At Just3Things we’re committed to building technology that helps your organisation adapt quickly and deliver more, so it should come as little surprise that many of our clients embrace OKRs to drive this clarity across all functions around those deliverables. In fact, our intuitive goal-setting interface was designed with OKRs in mind, and we’ve build our alignment, prioritisation and organisational strategy features to optimise for objective and key results tracking. What we’ve found is that even the best-intentioned organisations sometimes spend weeks or even months drafting OKRs, only to have them languish in a spreadsheet or HR system for six months. We’re out to change that.
If you are new to OKRs, however, or exploring a possible transition to this methodology, what do you need to know to get started? We’ve outlined the basics for you below.
What’s an Objective
(and how do I write one)?
An objective is a concise statement of an aspirational business goal that, if accomplished, would mark a step-change in forward progression for your team, department or company. Objectives should be aspirational yet attainable, action-oriented (think verbs, not adjectives) and, of course, aligned to your organisation’s overall strategy. Finally, whomever writes the objective – be that an individual or team – should be positioned to execute against it. Make sure to keep your language clear and express the goal qualitatively (the quantitative targets we’ll save for the Key Results).
What’s a Key Result?
A Key Result helps you determine if you’ve met your Objective. Like your Objectives, Key Results should be aspirational yet attainable, but unlike Objectives they should be quantitative and clearly defined with metrics. Using quantitative measures further helps align teams and eliminate subjectivity in assessing whether or not an Objective has ultimately been achieved.
It’s equally important to keep in mind what Key Results are NOT: they are not a laundry list of tasks or activities, nor should they represent a comprehensive log of every single thing that will be undertaken as you work towards accomplishing your objective. Focus on the ‘key’ in ‘Key Results’ that will mark tangible progress against your objectives.
Who Should Create OKRs?
It’s common for a company that has been working with OKRs for several years to ask all individuals and teams to create OKRs at the beginning of a planning cycle – often a financial year or half-year. Once everyone understands how to write OKRs, the sharing and alignment of those OKRs becomes the bigger undertaking for the organisation, which is where Just3Things comes in.
Traditionally, OKRs have been written by individuals at every level, but cascaded from the executive team down to individual contributors over a period of time. At Just3Things we understand that the majority of the work that drives businesses forward is increasingly undertaken in cross-functional teams, and have designed the OKR-setting and tracking features with teams in mind. Set an Objective together as a team, assign related Key Results to individuals or groups as needed and align your OKRs to the organisation’s strategic pillars and mission to ensure everyone is on board with your priorities.
Of course, OKRs can be set for individuals and even for personal development goals. Once you get the hang of the framework, it can be applied to nearly any goal-oriented activity.