Dispelling OKR Myths: Setting the Right 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 #14: If you always achieve 100% of your OKRs you have mastered the methodology

No company has more experience or expertise at OKR goal-setting than Google. They began the practice back in 1999 after an introduction from John Doerr and continue to use the methodology to this day nearly twenty years later.

Google uses a dual strategy, setting both Committed and Aspirational goals. For Committed goals, they fully expect to achieve 100% (or 1.0 in Google jargon) 100% of the time. If they fail, a postmortem is required to determine why they missed.

For Aspirational goals, a score of .7 – 1.0 is considered a success. Aspirational goals can even be rolled over from quarter to quarter and in extreme cases from year to year. Aspirational goals are designed to stretch the organization, to shoot for the moon, to achieve 10X results.

If your organization is always achieving 100% of your OKRs, you are not stretching the organization sufficiently. Companies that base compensation on Aspirational goals run the very real risk of teams or departments “sandbagging” to optimize their pay. Hence, we recommend divorcing compensation of any type from Aspirational goals.

There needs to be a blend of the Aspirational, to drive major change in your business and your market, and the Committed which tends to deliver incremental changes. If in grading your OKRs you determine you are achieving 100% too frequently it’s time to brainstorm to find goals that are closer to moonshots. If you shoot for the moon and miss, you may still hit the stars.

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!

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