Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are a form of measurement that companies use to gauge success and track progress toward reaching goals. This measurement methodology may sound similar to another acronym you’re likely familiar with, KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). While these two frameworks have some similarities, they are not the same.
This article will give an overview of OKRs, their benefits, and some best practices to use when trying to use the OKR system in your own organization. We’ll also look at some of the differences when it comes to the OKR vs KPI frameworks.
What Are OKRs?
OKRs can be considered a methodology or a framework/template that organizations can use to set goals, measure results, and track progress as a team. If you’ve heard of this term before, you may have also heard of the OKR book Measure What Matters (summary here) by John Doerr. Many consider this the best OKR book, as John Doerr is credited with popularizing this system and implementing it in large tech companies such as Google and Intel.
In this goal-centered system, objectives are always considered alongside key results, which are used as a kind of measurement of progress. This ensures that goals don’t fall by the wayside and that team members have a crystal clear understanding of how their daily work ties into the bigger picture.
There are different types of OKRs, and you can use this framework for almost anything — long-term company goals, daily tasks, and even in your personal life!
OKR vs. KPI
KPIs are often more metric-focused. If you want to figure out how a particular email marketing campaign is doing, you might track CTRs (click-to-open rates) against a previously set benchmark. OKRs are less about tracking performance — though that is an aspect of this framework — and more about setting and achieving goals.
For example, you might set up an OKR document for your marketing team that includes the following:
- Objective: To tweak our brand identity to appeal to a younger generation.
- Key Results: 1) Refreshing our brand guide, 2) Updating all digital content according to these new guidelines, 3) Hiring a social media manager.
These key results could then be put on a timeline, and the team could review progress and reflect on the OKR template regularly to ensure the objective and key results are still aligned and on track.
On the other hand, a KPI for a similar project might be “increase leads that are under 30 years of age by 20%,” at which point your team could decide how you want to track performance.
Benefits of Using OKRs
As the title of John Doerr’s book suggests, OKRs allow you to measure what matters! Setting objectives is easy. Your company likely has the same objectives as many others — get more business, get more traffic, launch a new product, bring in more revenue, etc. The magic comes in when you set up key results alongside these objectives, becuase it ensures you never stop making progress toward your goal.
Additionally, OKRs have a positive impact on team motivation and morale. An Asana report showed that only 26% of employees “have a clear understanding of how their individual work contributes toward company goals.”
This is detrimental both to the organization and to the employee. Implementing an OKR system in your organization can help team members feel more confident in the work they do and allows them to see the results of their effort. People need to know what they’re working for!
Best Practices for Implementing OKRs
It’s important to prioritize OKR measurement; without measuring and tracking your key results, all you have is an objective and no path to reach it. Consider researching the best OKR software and OKR tools for your industry, starting with some of the more popular options.
Your organization should also create its own OKR framework template so that the whole team knows how they should organize their own objectives and key results. There are many templates and examples online, but keep in mind that OKR examples for project managers might look different than OKR examples for education-based industries, etc. Simply put, your OKR strategy should match your company’s needs.
Having regular meetings is another practice that can help employees understand how their work is impacting movement toward success. Meeting regularly to review OKRs will help the team stay on track, stay focused on the objective and key results, and give everyone a glimpse into how things are moving along. You can easily add your OKRs into meeting templates and agendas by using a meeting intelligence platform like Docket.
Having a system in place to track progress toward goals is necessary for a working environment, but it can be difficult to know where to start. The OKR framework is flexible enough that it allows you to adapt it to the needs of your organization and your teams.
If you’ve seen that your team members are unmotivated or unsure of how their work is contributing to a larger goal, consider implementing this system to benefit both your organization and the people who keep it running.