Dispelling OKR Myths: Committed Versus Aspirational OKRs

It is said that OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) is a simple methodology with a simple language. There are no hard and fast rules, and there is no GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). So, much of what has been written of OKRs, taught by consultants, and espoused by OKR Software providers, is open to interpretation. As a result, we have misinterpretations, misunderstandings, and outright “Myths” about the process.

This series of blogs will debunk many of the most prevalent misconceptions.

OKR Myth #8: Committed OKRs and Aspirational OKRs are graded on the same curve.

No company has more experience with the protocol or has done more to popularize the OKR methodology than Google. As Rick Klau states in “How Google Sets Goals,” his 2013 YouTube presentation, “Google wasn’t Google before they started doing OKRs.

In the New York Times bestseller, “Measure What Matters,” Author John Doerr devotes a chapter to Google’s OKR Playbook. Google does goal-setting perhaps better than anyone. Their strategy employs two types of OKRs; Committed and Aspirational, and a color-scale for grading: 0.0 – 0.3 Red; 0.4 – 0.6 Yellow; and 0.7 – 1.0 Green.

Committed Versus Aspirational

The two types of goals are very different and are scored differently.

Committed OKRs – Google expects to achieve 1.0 on these goals, every period. Failure to do so is cause for reflection and a postmortem. Aspirational OKRs are just that, aspirational. Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, refers to them as 10X goals, or moonshots. Often-times aspirational goals are set with no clear idea of how to get there. As a result, a score of .7 is considered acceptable for a moonshot.

Another key difference in the two types of goals relates to cadence. A Committed goal should be completed within the current period, whereas an Aspirational goal can be rolled forward from quarter to quarter, even year to year in extreme cases.

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!


Image Credit: Stockvault

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