Objectives and Key Results

Let’s talk OKRs… one of those acronyms you either do or you don’t know.

OKRs stand for Objectives and Key Results. Used by the likes of Intel and Google, it is the practice of setting and communicating team and employee objectives and measuring their progress based on achieved key results. I believe they were first referred to in Andrew Grove’s book, High Output Management.

You select three or four objectives which should be ambitious, qualitative, time-bound and doable. Key results that come out of the objectives should be measurable and quantifiable, make the objective achievable, and difficult but not impossible.

The key points are that you should set three or four objectives at a time, set three or four key results per objective and that this should take place on a quarterly basis. It is really a more sophisticated version of SMART goals (stateable, measurable, achievable, realistic, timetabled).

In essence, OKRs answer the questions, “Where am I going and how will I know that I am getting there?”. As such it fits nicely into the work we have been doing with the Check-in Strategy Journal where we get business decision-makers to agree:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where are we going?
  • How are we going to get there?
  • How are we going to measure our progress?

Other suggestions for the use of OKRs are that they highly visible and that you anticipate that people should be able to hit about 70% of the target in total.

What I love about OKRs is the ease and simplicity of use: picking three objectives and picking three results for each objective gives clarity and visibility to what needs to be done.

So, what would your three objectives be for the next quarter? And what would your three results be for each objective?