Let’s talk about OKRs
🤔 Why you should care about it
“OKRs have helped lead us to 10x growth, many times over” - Larry Page, Google co-founder and former CEO
The OKR framework has gained popularity as the secret sauce behind Google's success and is now used by thousands of startups and big companies to accelerate their business growth.
Low or decreasing employee engagement —> morale is down and team members feel stuck in a rat race
Unaligned goals —> individual or team goals are not aligned with the company’s goals
Missed goals —> teams regularly miss goals or give up in the process
Research reveals that setting challenging and specific goals can further enhance employee engagement in attaining those goals. The OKR framework allows for the successful setup of a system of public objectives, aligned with each other within an organisation.
💡 Key Concepts
Objectives —> Objectives are where you want to go. They are ambitious and may feel somewhat uncomfortable. To define objectives, use expressions that convey endpoints and states (e.g. “climb the mountain”), with tangible, objective, and unambiguous terms.
Key Results —> Key Results are the necessary milestones to accomplish the objective. They are measurable and should be easy to grade with a number. To define key results, identify measurable milestones which, if achieved, will directly advance the objective.
Objective: Accelerate [product] revenue growth
- Launch xx feature to all users
- Implement xx initiative to increase revenue per user by xx%
- Launch three revenue-specific experiments to learn what drives revenue growth
- Secure tech support to build xx feature in Q1
”Engineering teams don’t need OKRs, we already have the roadmap”
—> OKRs are not a replacement for to-do lists and Kanban boards, which allow the follow-up of business-as-usual tasks. Engineering teams can use OKRs to set objectives beyond the completion of product features, like increasing engineering velocity and quality.
“OKRs are just for executives”
—> OKRs are tactical, not strategic. Executives should define a company’s strategic goals (the WHAT), but then it’s up to teams and individuals to figure out the HOW using OKRs. Healthy organisations should aim to strike a balance between top-down and bottom-up goals.
“OKRs put too much pressure on team members since they’re tied to compensation”
—> You should actually keep salary decisions separate from OKRs! This allows team members to be more relaxed in trying to attain those goals and to set up more ambitious goals. Instead focus performance reviews and salary decisions on skills, responsibilities and output rather than on OKRs.
Google's guide to set goals with OKRs. Pragmatic and well written, it's your go-to resource if you've never used OKRs before.
A short video I made to explain how to set OKRs using a football club example ⚽️
A post I wrote on how to set engineering OKRs beyond the product roadmap.
Google Ventures Startup Lab partner Rick Klau covers the value of setting OKRs and how this has been done at Google since 1999.
John Doerr's introduction to OKRs (if you don't have time to read his book 😉)