How to write OKRs

4 minutes

Why we use OKRs 

We’ve joined thousands of other organizations in implementing a goal-setting framework called OKRs , which stands for Objectives and Key Results.

OKRs give us a clear idea of where we want to be as an organization, and what we all need to do to get there.

This process will likely feel a bit “uncomfortable”…because it is! It pushes teams to set stretch goals that are ambitious - we don’t expect to get 100% on many of these goals and that’s ok. It means we set goals outside our comfort zone – which is a place where real growth and exciting work can happen.

We set OKRs at an organization, department, team, and individual-level so that we all have accountability and responsibility for supporting each other to accomplish them. Here’s how to create your own:

How to write OKRs

It can take some time to get in the rhythm of writing OKR’s. It might even feel like writing with your opposite hand at first. That’s because instead of thinking about outputs like activities or projects, OKR’s ask us to think of the outcome first.

First ask yourself, what do we really want to achieve and why does it matter? What is most important for the next three, six, or twelve months?

Objective: The ‘What’. 

Objectives should be concise, inspiring, and engaging. No need to include metrics - this is the role of Key Results. They’re usually more powerful as a phrase. And it should be obvious to anyone whether an objective has been achieved.

👎 “Make our application better”
👍 “Reduce the time spent by our client to set up their account to 2 minutes’’.

Make sure you can answer ‘yes’ to each of these questions:

Key Result: The “How”. 

The Key Results are the ways you’ll measure success for your Objectives. Don’t pick more than 5 Key Results per Objective otherwise you will dilute efforts and lose focus.

👎 Activity and task KR’s: “Launch X feature”. Words like “consult”, “help”, “analyze”, or “participate”
👍 Metric and value-based results KR’s: “Increase user retention from 45 to 65%”. Explain the end-user impact of activities.

Make sure you can answer ‘yes’ to each of these questions:

Projects

You’re probably wondering - what will we do to make progress on our OKRs? Our OKRs give us a north star but won’t tell you how to get there. That’s where projects come in.

Projects are your best bets to make progress. They’re the things that are most likely to move the needle - we say ‘most likely’ because they are hypotheses. That way, the projects can change but the OKR stays the same. This also gives you the flexibility and autonomy to determine the projects that will move you and our company forward.

A simple formula for writing a good OKR

OKR = (Objective = “What”) + 3 x (Key Results = ”Hows”)

We plan to succeed in ____Objective. Our key results are ____KR, ____KR, and ____KR. We plan to achieve this by ____deadline.

Try to avoid technical (team-related) jargon. Try to write your OKR’s so all employees in our organization can understand your objective, not just the people on your team.

Here’s one of our company-level OKRs

We plan to increase company revenue by 10%, as measured by a reduced churn rate (annual percentage rate at which customers stop subscribing to our service) to 5%, sign up 50 new customers, get 10% of existing customers to buy our new product X. We plan to achieve this by end of Q2

What to do after you’ve created your OKRs

Once you have your draft OKR’s, submit them here.

Credits: Photo by @alexander_tsang on Unsplash.