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NO SINGLE FACTOR HAS MORE IMPACT ON EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT THAN “CLEARLY DEFINED GOALS THAT ARE WRITTEN DOWN AND SHARED FREELY.”
Why Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)
The bad truth
Most important for employees
#1 goal setting framework worldwide
Our services for Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)
We always adapt our services to your specific needs to maximize your success
Consulting for Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)
Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) Workshops
OKR Shepherd/Champion education
What is an Objective and what are Key Results
An OBJECTIVE, is simply WHAT to be achieved
An OBJECTIVE, is simply WHAT to be achieved.
Moreover, it is:
- Action oriented
Example: We become market leader in our industry in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
KEY RESULTS benchmark and monitor HOW we get to the objective
- Aggressive yet realistic
- We will achieve a market share in terms of revenue of 35% until end of the year.
- We have the best Net Promoter Score in our industry until end of the quarter.
- We increase our revenue by 35% to 2 m EUR per month.
Learn more about the 4 superpowers of OKRs
As defined by John Doerr, who brought OKRs from Intel to Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and more
Focus and Commit to Priorities
High-performance organization home in on work that is important, and are equally clear on what does not matter. OKRs impel leaders to make hard choices. They are a precision communication tool for departments, teams, and individual contributors. Be dispelling confusion, OKRs give us the focus needed to win.
Align and Connect for Teamwork
With OKR transparency, everyone’s goals - from the CEO down - are openly shared. Individuals link their objectives to the company’s gameplan, identify cross-dependencies, and coordinate with other teams. By connecting each contributor to the organization’s success, top-down alignment brings meaning to work. By deepening people’s sense of ownership, bottom-up OKRs foster engagement and innovation.
Track for Accountability
OKRs are driven by data. They are animated by periodic check-ins, objective grading, and continuous reassessment - all in a spirit of no-judgement accountability. An endangered key result triggers action to get it back on track, or to revise or replace it if warranted.
Stretch for Amazing
OKRs motivate us to excel by doing more than we would thought possible. By testing our limits and affording the freedom to fail, they release our most creative, ambitious selves.
OKRs insights from John Doerr, the man who made OKRs popular
Learn here how to implement OKRs and to benefit from its 4 superpowers
- Find the raw material for top-line OKRs in the organization’s vision/ mission statement, strategic plan
- What is most important for the next 3 and 12 months?
- Set the appropriate cadence for your OKR cycle: Quarterly OKRs for shorter-term goals, annual OKRs for longer-term strategies, deployed in parallel
- Phase in rollout of OKRs with upper management first
- Commit to 3-5 top objectives
- Decide what not to do
- To emphasize a departmental objective and enlist lateral support, elevate it to a company OKR
- For each objective, settle on no more than 5 measurable, unambiguous, time-bound key results - how the objective will be attained
- Completion of all 5 KRs equates to the attainment of the objective
- For balance and quality control, pair qualitative and quantitative KRs
- When a KR requires extra attention, elevate it into an objective
- Designate an OKR shepherd/OKR Champion
- Incentivize employees by showing how their objectives relate to the leader’s vision and the company’s top priorities
- Use all-hands meetings to explain why an OKR is important to the organization → Keep repeating the message until you are tired of hearing it yourself
- Make all OKRs public
- When deploying cascaded OKRs, with objectives driven from the top, welcome give-and-take on KRs from frontline contributors
- Do not cascade step by step - trust your people that they can align with top level OKRs
- Encourage a healthy proportion of bottom-up OKRs - around half
- Smash department silos by connecting teams with horizontally shared OKRs
- Make all lateral, cross-functional dependencies explicit
- When an OKR is revised or dropped, see to it that all stakeholders know about it
- Install continuous reassessment and honest and objective grading - and start at the top
- Motivate contributors less with extrinsic rewards and more with open, tangible measures of their achievement
- To keep OKRs timely and relevant, have the designated OKR Shepherd/Champion ride herd over regular check-ins and progress updates → Enable teams to course-correct with agility
- Encourage weekly meetings between contributors and managers plus monthly departmental meetings
- As conditions change, feel free to revise, add, or delete OKRs as appropriate - even in mid-cycle - no “set them and forget them”
- At the cycle’s end, use OKR grades plus subjective self-assessments to evaluate past performance, celebrate achievements, and plan and improve for the future
- To keep OKRs up-to-date and on point, invest in a dedicated, automated, cloud-based platform - public collaboration, real-time goal-setting systems work best - if you share a goal that nobody sees, is the system truly transparent?
- At the beginning of each cycle, distinguish between goals that must be attained 100% - committed OKRs - and those that are stretching for more - aspirational OKR
- Establish an environment where individuals are free to fail without judgement
- To stimulate problem solving and spur people to greater achievement, set ambitious goals - even if it means some quarterly targets will be missed
- Replace incremental OKRs with exponential ones (Rule of 10x)
- Do not set the bar so high that an OKR is obviously unrealistic → morale suffers, employee commitment is essential
- Leaders must covey two things: The importance of the outcome, and the belief that it is attainable
- Design stretch OKRs to fit the organization’s culture
- When a team fails to attain a stretch OKR, consider rolling the objective over to the next cycle - assuming the goal is still relevant
OKRs surface your primary goals. They channel efforts and coordination. They link diverse operations, lending purpose and unity to the entire organization.
What you need to enable Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)
Objectives and Key Results OKRs Kick-off workshop
OKRs work only if your whole team uses them. Everyone needs to openly share his objectives. To align multiple departments you should implement cross-departmental OKRs. To motivate everyone they need to understand why OKRs are better than for instance S.M.A.R.T. goals. Within this workshop, our team makes sure, that everyone in your team is motivated to try out OKRs.
We will teach you everything which is important and how to implement OKRs with the tools you have in your company. May it be Excel, Google Docs, Smartsheet or Asana.
Result: Motivated and aligned employees who have drafted their first set of OKRs.
In the beginning it seems a lot. OKRs need to be integrated into weekly 1on1 meetings and monthly department meetings. Every three month is a new OKR cycle. All the new processes can be a lot especially in a fast paced environment of today.
We are your partner to set up the necessary processes and adapt your existing meetings. We provide you with proven templates for your meetings to implement Objectives and Key Results as fast as possible into your company culture.
Results: Effective meetings which help you to leverage all advantages of OKRs.
OKR Shepherd/Champion education
We empower our clients to be independent as fast as possible. We educate someone in your team to become a natural OKRs expert - an OKR shepherd and champion. He will be able to moderate the whole OKR process in your company, to on-board new employees into the system and to help existing team mates with all OKR related questions.
Results: You have an OKR ambassador which holds all the knowledge and skills you need to continue to benefit from OKRs.
Leverage collaboration tools to link OKRs to your daily work
Smartsheet. com is the perfect collaboration software for implementing Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). Smartsheet has all the advantages of a spreadsheet software like Excel plus it is a cloud-based work execution platform and has all features needed to work in teams effortlessly. So your team members can start working with a spreadsheet like they are used to and with one click they have a gantt chart or an agile card view. Moreover, you can easily link your objectives to ongoing projects and dashboards so that every contributor sees immediately how his work pays into the company or department objectives.
Explanations of the columns:
- Status: Green, yellow, or red - the exact meaning is usually agreed within a company.
- Objective: List here your objectives in a clear form like defined above. You should have 3 to 5 Objectives per cycle.
- C/A: Committed or aspirational OKR - this is a very important differentiation which almost all other OKRs templates miss. Be sure to leverage here, if you want to benefit from OKR superpower 4 - stretch for amazing.
- Key Results (KRs): You should have 3 to 5 KRs per cycle. Moreover, if you reach 100% in each KR also the objective should be reached 100%.
- KR Plan: Enter here what you intend to reach for the KR after the OKR cycle.
- KR Is: Enter here what you have reached for the KR after the OKR cycle.
- %: Divide column 6 by 5 to see how much you have reached in %. For committed OKRs you strive for 100% and for aspirational OKRs you strive usually for 70%.
- Score: This is similar to % reached, but you weight in factors like external circumstances, so how hard was it really.
- Start: When does the objective start. Very often it is the start of the OKR cycle, but not always.
- End: When should the objective be reached. Most people always use the end of the OKR cycle, but please use real dates!
- Assignee: Who is the responsible person for this objective or key result.
- Comments, derived projects: Make sure to link here to the actual projects which will help to achieve the objective.
Moreover, be sure to link the fitting OKRs to your team meetings and 1on1. For example, if you are the head of marketing, the objectives for marketing should be on the top of every marketing meeting, to remind your team and stay focused.
If you have any questions regarding the template or you simply would like to have a copy, reach out to us at the contact form below or via firstname.lastname@example.org
- Top line: Vision: Note here your vision, since all OKRs will be derived from that.
- Tasks below quarters: Objectives: List every OKR in one single task.
- Task details: Priority and Status: You can further distinguish how important the different Objectives are. Use a green, yellow or red status to indicate if the OKR is on track or not.
- Task details: Key Results: You should have 3 to 5 KRs per Objective. We recommend one custom field per KR to better distinguish. You can use one custom field for the KR plan and one for the KR is after the OKR cycle.
- Task details: Key Results progress in %: This is your KR is divided by KR plan. You can use also an additional custom field to score your result with external circumstances.
- Task details: Description or sub-tasks: Make sure to link here the projects which help to achieve the objective.
Of course, in the beginning and with a smaller team you can also use MS Excel or Google sheets to document your OKRs. However, we recommend based on the experience with many clients, that you switch to a more transparent and scalable system as fast as possible. The more team members you have the more difficult the change to a new software and process becomes.
If you want to have a spreadsheet template for Excel or Google sheets similar to the one you see below, simply send us an email to email@example.com
History of OKRs
From Intel over Google to the rest of the world
Legendary management author Peter Drucker introduced Management by Objectives (MBOs) in 1954 with publishing his book "The Practice of Management". This became the foundation for OKRs. By the 1960s MBOs has been adopted by a number of forward-thinking companies for example Hewlett-Packard HP.
Andy Grove was the Executive VP and later CEO of Intel. In the early 1970s he invented OKRs and introduced them at Intel. Thanks to his ability to motivate and communicate this new goal setting framework, it was widely adapted and made Intel the most successful chip company in the world.
John Doerr worked for Andy Grove and took the framework to other companies.
In 1999, John Doerr worked for a leading Venture Capital company in the USA. He introduced OKRs to the Google founders just a few months after launching Google.
John Doerr continued to introduce OKRs to almost all successful companies in Silicon Valley. Since many former employees of Google, LinkedIn and Twitter started their own companies later. OKRs are now used in almost every company in Silicon Valley. Driven by the success of OKRs and a wider media coverage, OKRs find their way to Europe's enterprises now.