How to Construct the Perfect OKR Cycle, From “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) is not a “one-size fits all” system. There is no GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) in the OKR methodology. The protocol is designed to be adaptable to different companies, perhaps even different teams or disciplines within a company. We know that the system will morph during your implementation as your organization will improve its execution as they gain experience.

In his book “Measure What Matters”, the author, John Doerr illustrates a typical OKR Cycle. (See below). The example provides an ideal quarterly cadence. If you have questions about the best method to execute OKRs in your company read on for best practices in structuring an OKR cycle. Key Principles of a Compressed Cadence

In the following paragraphs, we will look at the timeline of a well-constructed OKR cycle. You will note we use quarterly Objectives. There are several reasons for this shorter cadence:

  • Quarterly Objectives and their Key Results determine the actual work to be done during the period.
  • The shorter horizon precludes procrastination.
  • Feedback and tracking allow for real-time course correction.
  • Grading informs the subsequent quarter’s OKRs.

Four to Six Weeks Before the Quarter

Leadership develops the crucially important company-wide OKRs. These Objectives will drive the efforts of virtually the entire organization for the next 90 days. Goals need to be well constructed, specific, and their achievement must have a meaningful impact.

Two Weeks Before the Quarter

Finalized corporate OKRs are communicated company-wide. Aggressive, clearly written OKRS, broadly communicated will drive alignment, engagement, and commitment.

Start of the Quarter

Teams develop their OKRs, always in support of the corporate initiatives. Objectives are shared cross-functionally to enhance alignment and eliminate redundancies.

One Week After Start of the Quarter

Individual employees complete and share their OKRs, always in support of the team’s Objectives and aligned with the corporate OKRs.

Throughout the Quarter

Monitor and share performance results through Check-Ins and Conversations to highlight any at-risk items.

End of Quarter

Grade performances. Reflect on what worked and what needs improvement in subsequent quarters. Circumstances at your company may require some modification to this cycle; however, the benefits are obvious if you can follow this near perfect model.

Do you manage a company or teams (either as a CEO, a senior executive, a middle manager or even a front-line manager)? Do you set and track objectives? Does aligning employee performance to business goals matter, and are you responsible for driving results? If so, please check out a live demo of Atiim OKR & Goals Management Software and we’d love to hear what you think about it. Thank you!


Photo by John Jackson on Unsplash

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