Goal systems can be rather like diets. It’s rarely a black-and-white choice of which ones are ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but more a question of which ones work best for which people and circumstances.
In the corporate world, it’s no surprise that systems of the acronym variety are favoured – and especially those with an empirical slant.
So, say hello to OKRs – used by huge companies such as Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Sears and Oracle. Created within global US technology corporation Intel in the 1970s, the main purpose of using the OKR system is to connect the aims of individual people, teams and organisations.
OKRs can often be found in monthly or quarterly business planning reports, providing a clear indication of what is expected of staff at every level – and how well they’re progressing. The details are shared with all parties, to create universal understanding and transparency.
‘OKRs’ stands for objectives and key results. Ah,‘key’ – another of those popular corporate themes. In this case, it usually refers to identifying the most vital goals within an organisation.
To break it down,OKRs consist of:
An objective is what you want to accomplish (put a man on the moon by the end of the decade); key results are how you will accomplish the objective (build a lunar module weighing under 40,000 pounds by December 1965).
Objectives should be ambitious, qualitative, time-bound and actionable – rather like SMART goals.
Key results should be challenging, yet achievable; and quantifiable – usually based on growth, performance, revenue or engagement.
The progress indicator is updated on a regular basis (weekly or fortnightly). Once 75% of an objective’s results have been achieved, the objective is usually considered complete. If 100% of the results are achieved, the objective may be considered insufficiently ambitious.
You might think:‘ But my life and work goals aren’t numerical – so how can I use OKRs?’ However,OKRs are adaptable to different circumstances. You just need to figure out away to indicate progress.
For example, if your objective was to make a serious effort to get a book published, your key results might be:
While if you DO have volume-based aspirations – for example, an objective to add £50,000 to your business turnover – your key results might be:
Want to consider more objectives and results? We found this handy set of examples, categorised by industry.
The general consensus among businesses large and small seems to be that OKRs are extremely useful for managing and monitoring progress – but this partly depends on how they’re being used; and by whom.
The benefits ofOKRs include:
Meanwhile, the drawbacks of OKRs can include:
OKRs are therefore perhaps best used as a framework to work by, but not the ONLY indication of success or progress within an organisation – or, alternatively, your life.