Writing Quality OKRs
How to Write Quality OKRs
- Understand the framework and definitions of Objectives and Key Results.
- Objectives are desired outcomes that are aspirational, valuable, action-oriented and achievable. They must answer ‘What will I achieve?’
- Key Results are measurable, specific, realistic, and time-bound metrics to inform the completion of the objectives. They must answer ‘How will I know when I’ve fulfilled my objective?’
- Develop OKRs that align with enterprise and/or team-level OKRs.
- OKRs must not be created in a vacuum. Alignment of OKRs up through the organization demonstrates mobility and consistency around common goals. OKR owners must be able to articulate how their OKRs contribute to the organization’s goals.
- Confirm OKRs fit into the three phases required for successful execution.
- Set and commit to priorities
- Ensure cross-functional alignment
- Track progress regularly
- Focus on creating 3-5 objectives and 3-5 key results for each objective that are aspirational in nature and provide significant value for the organization, without being unrealistic.
- Optimal number of OKRs allows for clear prioritization of work and efficient use of resources while still providing significant value in achieving the organization’s goals.
- Remain persistent and focused when OKRs are deployed while understanding that adjustments can be made in-flight when necessary.
Tips & Traps
- All OKRs should meet the following criteria:
- Objectives: clear, concise, and compelling.
- Key Result: measurable, unambiguous, and number-based.
- OKRs should be outcome-based, not activity-based. Avoid the activity trap by making sure you are measuring delivery of value and not effort.
- Outcomes: improvement gained, or value created, from doing something.
- Activities: initiatives, projects, tasks to achieve outcomes.
- Once in-flight, develop consistent check-ins for progress updates to ensure OKRs remain on track for completion. If an OKR is off-track, determine what must be done to get it back on track.
- Allow for some flexibility: revisions, additions, or deletions can occur in some circumstances. If an OKR has been deemed obsolete due to unforeseen circumstances, it should be archived immediately.
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