How to Track and Grade OKRs for Improved Execution, From “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr

Gone are the days of MBOs and “set them and forget them”. The OKR methodology is designed so that Objectives and their Key Results can be tracked, graded, adapted, and improved upon over time. OKRs should be looked at as an opportunity for continuous improvement in your goal-setting strategy. We learn and improve not merely from experience, but from analyzing and reflecting on prior performance. See how you can improve your execution through tracking and grading.

Measure What Matters

In his New York Times best-seller, “Measure What Matters”, author John Doerr, defines OKRs:

  • Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs, are a simple goal-setting system. The Objectives are “What” we want to have accomplished, the Key Results are “How” I’m going to get that done. Objectives, Key Results, What and How.”

Let’s focus on the “How”, the Key Results. Good KRs need to be succinct, measurable, and time-bound. Achievement of each KR assigned to an Objective has to mean the Objective was achieved.

In an OKR environment the “must do” is frequent check-ins, monitoring and tracking performance. OKR software is designed so that progress against OKRs may be updated weekly with results being visible to all. Given a quarterly cadence, performance to KRs should accrue at about 10% per week. If results are lagging the KR is considered to be at risk.

When grading OKRs, there are four potential scenarios:

  1. If tracking is on pace to achieve the KR it is considered green-lighted, continue as you have been
  2. Not tracking on pace-yellow lighted, its time to adapt, identify the roadblocks and modify activities accordingly
  3. OKRs are not static, if the situation dictates, create an additional KR to ensure achievement of the Objective
  4. If the KR is seriously at risk, perhaps its time to red light the initiative, and drop the KR.

Regardless of the outcome, continuous tracking, grading, adapting, and modifying will provide learnings to be used in subsequent quarters. And continuous improvement in execution is what organizations are seeking.

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: Quino Al on Unsplash

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