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Why brands like Intel and Google use OKRs and you should, too

(Business News) OKRs are gaining popularity, especially in the start up crowd. Objectives and Key Results are an effective way to track and define your business.

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What are OKRs?

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) were originally invented by Intel, as an effective way to track and define business goals. OKRs are extremely popular with start-up companies, as they can “fine-tune” their direction and goals in a tangible, trackable way.

However, before businesses can begin to consider OKRs, they should devote some time to seriously brainstorm future goals because an OKR can only be effective if the goals are relevant and attainable.

How do you use OKRs?

First you define three to five objectives; these can be for the company, team, or personal. These objectives should be ambitious, qualitative, time sensitive, and actionable. Next, you will want to define three to five measurable results. These key results should be quantifiable, achievable, a bit difficult, but not impossible. OKRs are typically based on growth, performance, revenue, or engagement. Each key result has a progress indicator or score of 0-100% or 0 to 1.0 that shows its achievement.

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Once defined, you will need to communicate OKR objectives and key results to all relevant personnel. Goals can always be revisited when needed and as employees begin their work, they will update their result indicators regularly, usually weekly. A particular objective is considered complete when it reaches 70-75%. It seems counter-intuitive, but if 100% of objectives are reached; the objective was probably not ambitious enough. OKRs are meant to motivate. They need to be reviewed and adjusted as necessary to be effective tools.

Why use OKRs?

The main benefit is help keep vision, goals, and objectives in front of employees. When properly established and regularly used, OKRs are simple and do not require much time to implement or follow. OKRs are used by Fortune 500 companies, startups, and everyone in between. OKRs are said to be the one “best practice management tool” for your team or company as it has the ability to move your people in the right direction and ensure they follow your vision.

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There are several apps on the market that guide you through the process of setting up and tracking OKRs. Weekdone is a good alternative to trying to figure OKRs out on your own. If you still need a bit of guidance, this video from Google explains how to set realistic OKR goals that are attainable and useful.

#OKRs

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Why brands like Intel and Google use OKRs and you should, too | Top Ten King

  2. Alex Raymond

    February 11, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Thanks for covering this topic, Jennifer. You really get to the heart of this issue: As you mention, goals “can only be effective if the goals are relevant and attainable.” So many managers overlook that in the pursuit of pushing their team for results, results, results. You’re also right to point out that even once you do decide your goals and confirm they’re relevant and attainable, those still need to be adjusted over time. In my work with enterprise goal management for large brands, managers in every sector struggle with not only setting goals, but also remaining flexible to adjust those goals as circumstances change. OKRs are a great way to benchmark that process.

  3. Eric Hyman

    March 18, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    OKRs are a great goal setting tool. And there are numerous others that many people swear by. The exciting thing about the sudden surge of interest around goal setting in general is the recognition of how the very process of setting goals and objectives can help inspire people to achieve them. But inspiration is not always enough, and there is a lot of discussion in management circles about the lack of connectivity between setting strategy based on goals and executing against strategy to achieve those goals. The Harvard Business Review’s cover story this month is all about that and says executing against strategy is the #1 challenge facing businesses today according to research done with 400 CEOs worldwide. So anyone interested in OKRs might also want to check out tools for what some people are now referring to as Results Management (our platform AchieveIt is one of them) which helps those using OKRs to collaboratively manage their organizations towards achieving them.

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