How to Set Business Goals with OKRs – Examples & Top 10 Tips for CEOs

The responsibility for setting corporate business goals lies with senior leadership. In most companies, this is either the CEO or another C-Level executive such as a Chief Strategy Officer. In this article, we’ll provide examples of corporate OKRs, (Objectives and Key Results), illustrate how they cascade to department heads, site best practices, and provide helpful tips on how to get you started with the protocol.

Many companies have difficulties in setting their initial strategic business goals. So, we’ll explain where to look for inspiration and how to roll out your initial OKRs to the organization.

Bear in mind, these few, initial OKRs will determine the focus and priorities for the entire organization and inform people where they should concentrate their efforts for the upcoming period.

(Best Practice Tip #1. Limit the number of initial OKRs to no more than 3-5 Objectives, with 1-3 Key Results supporting each Objective. Any more OKRs and the focus on the primary Objectives may be blurred, and Key Results can start to resemble a list of activities).

Examples of a CEOs – Organizational-Level Business Goals

The CEO and his staff must cull through all the projects and initiatives available to them to arrive at those select few priorities that will make a difference. Remember, one of the principles of an OKR implementation is to provide laser-like focus.

(Best Practice Tip #2. Review the Mission, Vision Statement, and Strategic Pillars of the organization to ensure your goals and Objectives are properly aligned to move you in the right direction). Examples of strategic business goals might be:

  • Improve Profitability
  • Become More Customer-centric
  • Develop a Culture of Achievement
  • Launch Our New Technology

(Best Practice Tip #3. If you’re reading this article, this Best Practice should not be an issue for you; however, for an OKR execution to be effective senior leadership’s buy-in, commitment, and participation are paramount. In the absence of this commitment and participation, we recommend you not attempt to implement the methodology).

Further inspiration for Setting Corporate Level Business Goals:

Think of Financial goals:

  • Sales
  • Recurring revenues
  • Profitability
  • Earnings per share

Think of how goals may Impact your target customer:

  • Make companies work better
  • Improve the user experience

Think of Scaling your company:

  • Standardize processes
  • Put systems in place

Other thoughts for CEO OKRs:

  • How do we innovate, within our space
  • How do we dominate, increase our market share
  • How do we motivate, improve our employee engagement

Setting Key Results for our CEO OKR Example

As a next step, let’s revisit the first of our Corporate Level Goals examples to see how we would assign Key Results and cascade them to our senior staff.

First, let’s review the structure of OKRs and how they work in practice:

In John Doerr’s book “Measure What Matters,” he defines OKRs as

Objectives (Os) – WHAT is to be achieved, Objectives should be significant, concrete and action-oriented.

Key Results (KRs) – KRs benchmark and monitor HOW we get to the objective. KRs should be succinct, specific, and measurable. KRs typically include hard numbers.

Our Corporate Level Goal: Improve Profitability (WHAT is to be achieved)

Key Results: (HOW we get to the objective)

  1. Achieve global sales target of $100 million – Assigned to VP of Sales.
  2. Reduce SG&A expenses by 5% versus Year Ago – Assigned to CFO
  3. Hire and train three new Account Executives – Assigned to VP of People Ops.
  4. Slow customer churn rates – Assigned to VP of Customer Success.

From this initial cascading to department executives it’s easy to visualize how they would cascade these Key Results to Team Leaders.

Additional Best Practices Tips for Setting Corporate Business Goals

  • #4. Key results typically follow a SMART goal-setting approach; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound
  • #5. We recommend a balance of Aspirational goals (moonshots) and Committed goals, (those of a more incremental improvement nature)
  • #6. A best-practice for the frequency of setting OKRs is a quarterly cadence. Many organizations use a blend of quarterly and annual Objectives.
  • #7. Regular Check-Ins to monitor progress is a “must do.” These Check-Ins provide real-time feedback, providing an opportunity for timely course corrections.
  • #8. Many companies will do a staged “roll-out” of the methodology
  • #9. Broadly communicating OKRs is another imperative. We typically recommend an “all hands” meeting wherein leadership communicates the “Why” as well as the “What.”
  • #10. To make the methodology scalable, we suggest you consider a dedicated, cloud-based software application.

In addition to the examples above, Atiim provides guidance and support through professional and experienced Customer Success Managers. Your CSM will assist you in the development of your Corporate Business Goals, with staff training, and with education.

Are you a CEO responsible for strategy? Do you set strategy, goals, and track performance? 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: Helloquence on Unsplash

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