You Asked How to Use OKR Key Tactics to Set Effective Goals

This is the first in a series of “You Asked & We Answer” articles. In this issue, we’ll detail how high-performing companies use OKR Key Tactics in setting and monitoring effective goals.

In his book, “Measure What Matters,” John Doerr tells us that OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) have Four Superpowers that ensure the company focuses their efforts on the same important issues throughout the organization to drive superior performance. We believe adherence to these four concepts is essential for a successful OKR strategy execution, so we’ll develop our key tactics around these four points. But first, let’s define the protocol and give you a best-practices formula for setting OKRs.

Defining OKRs

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

Key Results (KRs): They benchmark and monitor HOW we get to the objective. KRs should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound following the SMART goals method. KRs typically include hard numbers.

An OKR Formula

Doerr’s formula for setting OKRs:

“I will accomplish (the Objective) as measured by (Key Results).” Objectives and Key Results, simple.

Key OKR Tactics for a Successful Implementation

You must Focus and Commit to Priorities – Super Power #1, and the most critical concept for rollout and adoption of the protocol

  1. A great tactic at this step is to look to your Mission, Vision Statement, and Strategic Plan to inform your company level OKRs
  2. Limit your initial OKRs to no more than 3-5 Objectives
  3. Communicate the Why as well as the What of OKRs. Why are you adopting OKRs now? What business issue will OKRs address in your organization?
  4. Assign 1-3 Key Results per Objective. Key Results should not be a list of activities, instead, use desired outcomes
  5. Key Results supporting these initial Objectives must be quantitative to determine if the objective has been met, use numbers
  6. Assign a DRI (Directly Responsible Individual) for each Key Result

Align and Connect for Teamwork – Super Power #2, alignment is not a heavy-handed cascading of Objectives

  1. Strive for at least 50% of OKRs to be developed by your teams, bottom-up
  2. Team OKRs must always be in support of the corporate objectives
  3. Use a cloud-based OKR Software to provide transparency
  4. Ensure your OKRs are aligned both vertically and horizontally. Horizontal alignment identifies areas for collaboration and teamwork

Track for Accountability – Super Power #3, an imperative in OKRs is communication. We recommend regularly scheduled Check-Ins to update progress towards your Key Results.

  • These Check-Ins provide real-time progress updates and identify any barriers to achievement of your KRs
  • Based on feedback during Check-Ins, address any roadblocks or obstacles to the completion of Key Results
  • OKRs are not set in stone. If market conditions dictate you should adapt, amend, or even discontinue an OKR
  • At the conclusion of each quarter review progress, reflect on what worked well and what did not, and incorporate insights into the subsequent quarter’s OKR
  • Conduct a postmortem on an any Committed KR not achieving a 1.0 score
  • Stretch for Amazing – Super Power #4, OKRs are not of the business as usual variety.

  • Use a blend of aspirational and more attainable goals
  • Aspirational goals motivate the workforce. Even a miss on aspirational goals can drive exceptionable performance
  • The above is just a sampling of Key OKR Tactics. Atiim also provides guidance and support through professional and experienced Customer Success Managers who assist you in the onboarding process.

    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: Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

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