What are Objectives & Key Results (OKRs), and what are best practices, tools and online templates for teams and organizations?
Definition of Objectives & Key Results / OKRs
OKRs is an acronym for “Objectives and Key Results” and is a popular, frequently used tool for goal-setting to help teams reach for and measure progress in their most ambitious projects.
An objective is a concrete, action-oriented goal. They Key Results part of the OKR model focuses on the key performance measures that will monitor progress toward meeting the objective. Key Results should be both aggressive and realistic, and most importantly, should be quantifiable and measurable.
Description of OKRs
OKRs are a simple tool used by companies to create alignment and engagement around measurable goals. The development of OKRs is generally attributed to Andy Grove who introduced the approach while working at Intel. He further documents the concept in his 1983 book High Output Management. OKRs are further explained by John Doerr, “The key result has to be measurable. But at the end you can look, and without any arguments: Did I do that or did I not do it? Yes? No? Simple. No judgments in it.”
OKRs are made up of an Objective, which is a clearly defined goal, and one or more Key Results, which are specific measures used to track the attainment of that Objective. Objectives are qualitative descriptions of the organization’s goals and should be concise, motivating and challenging to the team. Key Results are a set of metrics that measure progress towards the Objective. For each Objective, an organization should have a set of 2 to 5 corresponding Key Results. The goal of an OKR is to define how to achieve specific objectives through specific and measurable actions. Results are usually evaluated quarterly and can be measured on any scale as long as it is specific, for example through a monetary amount, % change, volume of sales, etc.
One of the many benefits of employing the use of OKRs is that it creates alignment within an organization by encouraging everyone to go the same direction with clear priorities. It is also an agile approach, in that OKRs are generally evaluated at more frequent intervals than annual planning cycles.
Objectives are specific business strategies that support larger goals. Key Results are specific and measurable activities/outcomes that together will achieve the objective. The best Key Results are phrased as outcomes. Some principles in writing Key Results include:
- If you can’t measure it, it’s not a good Key Result
- Focus on customer outcomes
- Be ambitious (70% success is good)
- Keep the number of Key Results to a minimum (no more than five for an objective and ideally less)
Any key result can be cascaded to become an “objective” for another team or group, that has its own more detailed key results.
Tools & Templates
Various Operations methods, Risk Assessments and Process Maps can all be used to provide insights, data and additional support when using the OKR Model method. Many teams using spreadsheets or presentation software to support their OKRs process.
upBOARD's Online OKR Tools & Templates
Unlike most traditional OKR models, upBOARD’s online Objectives & Key Results (OKR) tools allow any team or organization to instantly begin working with our web templates and input forms. Our digital platform goes far beyond other software tools by including progress dashboards, data integration from existing documents or other SaaS software, elegant intuitive designs, and full access on any desktop or mobile device.
Learn more about upBOARD’s portfolio of other operations best practice tools and templates, including:
5 S System, Brainstorming, Business Process Re-engineering, Gemba Walk, House of Lean, House of Quality, Huddle Boards, Just in Time (JIT), Kaizen, Kanban Boards, Key Performance Indicators, Leading and Lagging Indicators, Lean Manufacturing, Objectives & Key Results, Operational Performance Management, Outsourcing Decision-Matrix, Performance-Based Budgeting, QDIP Board, RATER Model, Six Sigma, SQDC Board, SQDCM Board, Supplier Relationship Management (SRM), Theory of Constraints (TOC), Total Quality Management (TQM), Value Stream Mapping, and Zero Defects.