7 goal-setting frameworks that are alternatives to OKRs

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At Tability, we often talk about OKRs as a powerful and widely used goal-setting framework. However, it's important to recognise that there are several other frameworks that have proven to be equally effective in achieving goals. In this post, we’ll look at seven popular OKR alternatives, and their unique advantages and applications. 

Why goal-setting frameworks are important

Goal-setting frameworks are crucial for several reasons, including:

Clarity of purpose 

Goal-setting frameworks provide individuals and organisations with a clear understanding of their objectives and desired outcomes. This clarity helps in defining a purpose and direction for actions.

Motivation and focus

Setting specific goals creates a sense of motivation by giving individuals something to strive for. It helps in maintaining focus on what needs to be achieved.

Measurable progress

Goal-setting frameworks often include measurable milestones and deadlines. This allows for tracking progress over time, providing a tangible way to assess achievements and identify areas needing adjustment.

Time management

Setting goals involves assigning priorities and deadlines, and encouraging effective time management. This ensures that efforts are concentrated on activities that contribute most to the overall objectives.

Enhanced decision-making

With clear goals in place, decision-making becomes more straightforward. Goals act as a guideline for assessing various options and choosing the ones that align best with the overarching objectives.


Clearly defined goals create a sense of accountability. Individuals or teams are more likely to take responsibility for their actions when they are working towards specific targets.

Adaptability and flexibility 

While goals provide a clear direction, goal-setting frameworks also allow for adaptability. As circumstances change, frameworks can be adjusted to accommodate changing circumstances and priorities.

Continuous improvement

Goal-setting frameworks often involve periodic evaluations. This encourages a culture of continuous improvement, where individuals and organisations can learn from their experiences and refine their approaches over time.

7 OKR alternatives

There are dozens of different goal-setting frameworks out there, and we can’t cover all of them. Here, we’ll explore seven popular alternatives to OKRs.

1. SMART Goals 

The SMART Goals methodology was introduced in the 1980s and has proved effective across various industries and applications. The main objective of SMART is to establish well-defined, measurable goals that align with desired results and can be accomplished within a specified time frame. 

Let's break down each of the SMART criteria:

  • Specific: Goals need to clearly articulate expected outcomes, targets, requirements etc. Specifics eliminate ambiguity.
  • Measurable: Indicators of progress and success must be defined through metrics, deadlines, budgets, deliverables etc. Measurability enables tracking and accountability.  
  • Achievable: Goals should push limits but remain possible given available resources, bandwidth and capabilities. 
  • Relevant: Goals must align with the overall strategy and vision. Relevance ensures efforts tackle top priorities and have maximum impact.  
  • Time-bound: Every goal needs a deadline or timeline for completion, which creates urgency and drives action.

Advantages of SMART Goals

The SMART framework's main benefit is providing people with an effective way to write their goals. You can use it for short-term or long-term goals, and it can also be combined with other goal-setting frameworks like OKRs.

The SMART method is an effective way to write clear and specific goals. These goals are more achievable and reduce the risks associated with trying to accomplish too much. When teams use the SMART method, they can be more accountable and have a better chance of success.

Example of a SMART Goal

"Secure 100 beta sign-ups by the end of the quarter"

How this goal is SMART:

  • Specific: "We will record 100 beta sign-ups" clearly states what we're trying to achieve.
  • Measurable: "100 beta sign-ups" gives us a metric that we can track.
  • Attainable: "100 beta sign-ups" is achievable for a beta (instead of putting 100,000 sign-ups).
  • Relevant: Getting beta sign-ups supports the broader objective of launching a virtual customer experience program.
  • Time-bound: "By the end of the quarter" is providing a clear deadline.

If you need more inspiration, you can look at 50+ more examples of SMART goals.

SMART goal method stands for Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely
The SMART method is an effective way to write clear and specific goals

2. Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) 

The BHAG goal-setting framework was made popular by business authors Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. 

A BHAG is meant to be a huge, daring goal that seems nearly impossible to achieve but serves to drive tremendous effort and breakthrough results.

BHAGs should be:

Audacious: Goes beyond what seems easily achievable, requiring you to expand capabilities.

Bold: Has an exciting quality that ignites passion, commitment and focus. 

Long-term: Could take 10+ years to fully accomplish, acting as a far-off guiding light.

Measurable: Has quantitative targets to aim for and track incremental progress.

Advantages of BHAG

  • Galvanises effort towards a shared vision of the future. 
  • Makes incremental goals more meaningful by linking them to a bigger purpose.
  • Drives innovation, growth and increased capabilities over long timeframes.

A BHAG serves as an inspiring and unifying framework that enables teams to overcome obstacles and achieve ambitious goals through maximum collective effort over the long run.

Example of a BHAG

The autonomous vehicle company ABC Technologies has set a bold, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) to enable, by 2030, an autonomous vehicle network that achieves zero traffic fatalities and cuts commute travel times by 70% across all major Australian cities.

This ambitious 10-year target aligns with ABC Technologies' mission to make self-driving car technology safe, accessible, and eco-friendly.

While achieving this BHAG seems nearly impossible today given regulatory, technological, and infrastructure barriers, ABC Technologies believes significant progress can be made through innovations in AI, batteries, sensors, vehicle connectivity, and electrification.

Realising this goal would revolutionise transportation, dramatically improve urban life, and cement ABC Technologies as a leader in autonomous vehicles. Though extremely difficult, this BHAG provides a galvanising long-term vision for the company's groundbreaking work on self-driving car systems.

A BHAG is meant to be a huge, daring goal that seems nearly impossible to achieve

3. WOOP Goal Framework 

The WOOP methodology is based on Gabriele Oettingen's psychological research on expectancy and mental contrasting. WOOP stands for:


This identifies the goal or desired outcome. You articulate precisely what you want to accomplish.


You describe the positive results of obtaining the goal. How will achieving this wish improve your life emotionally, financially, physically etc?  


Here, you should actively imagine potential obstacles that could hinder your goal achievement and describe how they may thwart you.


The final step involves systematically making an if-then plan to navigate expected obstacles. You commit to specific actions to employ when obstacles arise to prevent derailment.

Advantages of WOOP Goal Framework

The WOOP method is a distinct and effective approach due to its focus on recognising potential obstacles and developing corresponding plans. By envisioning potential impediments, they become more manageable and easier to overcome. Preparing contingency plans for getting back on track ahead of time provides motivation and support to overcome challenges.

By consciously outlining probable difficulties and mitigation tactics, you can effectively prepare for hurdles, which in turn prevents discouragement and increases the chances of persistence.

The WOOP process mimics the benefits of experience. By creatively simulating potential pitfalls, you become better prepared to overcome them. With foreseeable obstacles transformed into manageable bumps rather than barriers, you feel empowered to persevere until your wish becomes a reality.

Example of a WOOP goal

W - Wish

My wish is to get promoted to senior marketing manager within my company by the end of 2024. I seek to advance to a position with more leadership, strategic impact, and responsibilities.  

O - Outcome

The positive outcomes of achieving this wish include increased compensation and job satisfaction, working on high-visibility projects, leading a team to execute campaigns, having more influence on marketing roadmaps, and professional growth in responsibilities.

O - Obstacle 

Some major obstacles are that I need to further demonstrate strategic thinking capabilities to the executive team, improve my public speaking skills for presentations, and accomplish a major campaign success this year that drives significant growth for the company.  

P - Plan

My plan is to take on volunteering opportunities at work that increase my exposure to company leaders. I will use those interactions to share my ideas and insights. I also plan to ask my manager for public speaking coaching. Additionally, when leading the fall product launch campaign, I will tap cross-functional peers to create an extremely thorough launch strategy focused on engagement growth. If I don't receive a promotion by Q3 next year, I will directly but politely ask my manager for honest feedback on how I can improve.

This WOOP goal sets out the wish for a specific promotion, expected positive outcomes, obstacles such as skill gaps and experience requirements, and a plan of action to directly tackle those obstacles to successfully advance my career over the next year.

By creatively simulating potential pitfalls, you become better prepared to overcome them

4. Balanced Scorecard 

Conceived in the early 1990s by Drs. Robert Kaplan and David Norton, the Balanced Scorecard (BSC)  approach provides organisations with a robust framework for linking overarching strategy to tactical objectives across four key perspectives:

  1. Financial perspective

This focuses on how strategy delivers economic value - typical financial objectives include profitability, revenue growth, and cost control metrics.

  1. Customer perspective  

This focuses on delivering value to customers. Goals here involve satisfaction, retention, market share - and ultimately, how to best serve the target customers.

  1. Internal processes perspective

This focuses on business processes that have the most significant impact on strategic outcomes and customer satisfaction. Common goals involve safety, quality, efficiency and other operational excellence metrics. 

  1. Learning and growth perspective 

This focuses on employee capabilities and the infrastructure/systems needed to enable organisational goals. Typical goals would include employee training, corporate culture, information systems etc.

The BSC is a management tool that aims to achieve a balance between short and long-term objectives, financial and non-financial metrics, external and internal performance, and lagging and leading indicators of the business. This holistic, cause-and-effect connected set of perspectives ensures greater organisational alignment.

Example of a BSC goal

5. The Scaling Up Framework

"Scaling Up" is a framework that was introduced by Verne Harnish in his 2014 book titled "Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It… and Why the Rest Don't." Initially, it was a practical guide, but it has now evolved into a complete set of practices and tools that help businesses grow successfully. The Scaling Up methodology revolves around four critical pillars that companies must get right: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash.


You must ensure the right people are in the right positions, doing the right things. This involves creating a healthy work environment where accountability is clear, and every team member is engaged in the success of the company.


In order to distinguish your company from others, it's important to have a well-defined plan. This plan should include a special offer that makes sense to everyone, not just those within the company, but also to customers and the larger market. It's important that everyone in the company understands and works towards the same goals, in order to have a shared understanding of what the company is all about.


Execution involves translating strategy into action. This aspect of the framework covers the practical growth areas, such as prioritising, managing metrics, and establishing an organisational rhythm that ensures consistent, seamless execution.


Managing cash flow effectively is crucial for any business to grow. The Scaling Up methodology places great emphasis on this aspect of business growth. This can involve reducing costs, speeding up the sales process, as well as identifying new sources of revenue.

The Scaling Up framework provides businesses with practical tools and concepts to implement strategies effectively. For instance, the One-Page Strategic Plan (OPSP) helps companies articulate their strategy on a single page, while the Rockefeller Habits Checklist outlines key practices that facilitate successful scaling.

The Scaling Up framework provides businesses with practical tools and concepts to implement strategies effectively

6. The Entrepreneurial Operating System 

The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) is a comprehensive business management framework designed to help entrepreneurial organisations achieve their vision, enhance their operations, and foster a healthy company culture. EOS was developed by Gino Wickman, who introduced the system in his book "Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business."

Key components of the EOS include:

  • Vision: To start with, EOS involves creating a distinct and captivating vision for the organisation. This includes outlining the fundamental values, purpose, and a vivid long-term objective. Establishing a shared vision ensures that all members of the organisation are striving towards a common goal.
  • People: EOS places great emphasis on the significance of having the appropriate people in the appropriate positions. This entails evaluating the abilities and competencies of team members and guaranteeing that they are matched with their respective roles and responsibilities. Moreover, it promotes fostering a culture of accountability and collaboration.
  • Data: Data-driven decision-making is essential for EOS. Companies should identify key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with their objectives and regularly track and analyse these metrics to make informed decisions and monitor progress.
  • Issues: EOS acknowledges that encountering issues is a normal aspect of any business. To deal with them in a structured manner, the framework offers a comprehensive method of identifying, discussing, and resolving them. This involves holding frequent meetings where team members can openly address and tackle challenges to prevent them from escalating into more persistent problems.
  • Process: EOS promotes the development and documentation of core processes to ensure consistency and efficiency, contributing to overall business growth.
  • Traction: "Traction" refers to the discipline and accountability needed to execute on EOS's vision. This involves setting and achieving short-term goals, also known as "Rocks," and ensuring that the team focuses on the most critical priorities.

To implement the EOS framework, organisations typically engage in regular meetings and sessions, such as:

  • Level 10 meetings: A weekly leadership team meeting lasting 90 minutes, focusing on addressing and solving key issues.
  • Quarterly planning sessions: These sessions involve reviewing and updating the company's long-term goals, setting quarterly Rocks, and ensuring alignment among team members.
  • Annual planning: An annual session where the leadership team reviews progress, updates the vision, and establishes goals for the coming year.

Many businesses, especially those in the small to midsize range, use EOS as a management framework. EOS offers a comprehensive and organised approach to business management, enabling companies to enhance their operations, promote a thriving work culture, and achieve their long-term objectives. It's worth noting, however, that the effectiveness of EOS may differ depending on the distinct requirements and features of each organisation.

Example of Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)

Vision: To be the most trusted and efficient home repair service in our region


  • Complete Traction Organiser for employee roles, responsibilities, metrics
  • Set annual people goals using SMART framework 
  • Conduct quarterly reviews to provide feedback 


  • Technology: CRM dashboard tracking jobs, retention, customer satisfaction
  • Financial: Use scorecard on revenue, cash flow, profitability, burn 
  • Operations: Measure schedule adherence, on-time arrival, completion rates  


  • Document procedures manual for field tech dispatch, inventory, HR
  • Formalise onboarding, training programs 
  • Optimise scheduling protocols to support scaling

Meeting rhythm:  

  • Level 10 Meetings (2x per year): Annual planning session
  • Quarterly planning: Set Rocks 90 day priorities
  • Weekly pulse checks: Track Rock progress, obstacles, scores
  • Accountability: 1-on-ones for coaching and mentoring
Many businesses, especially SMBs, use EOS as a management framework

7. Narratives, Commitments, and Tasks

The Narratives, Commitments, and Tasks (NCT) framework is designed for setting connected, purposeful goals at different levels, from big picture to detailed. Here's an overview of the components:

  • Narratives: The overarching stories we tell about our lives and what gives us meaning and purpose. Narratives help provide context and motivation for the goals we set. Some examples of narratives could be "Living a healthy and active life," "Being a caring friend," or "Making a positive impact through my work."
  • Commitments: The broader goals and priorities we set that align with our narratives. Commitments are intended to guide actions over the long term. Some commitment examples could be "Exercise 4 times per week," "Call my parents every Sunday," or "Produce high-quality work that makes clients happy." 
  • Tasks: Tasks are specific actions and to-do items that contribute to fulfilling our commitments and advancing our goals. They are tangible and measurable actions that can be completed, such as "running today," "submitting expense reports," or "finishing a client presentation." These tasks are essential for achieving our intended outcomes and moving forward with our plans.

The NCT model offers a useful structure for establishing meaningful goals at various levels, ranging from broad to specific. The process begins by defining the kind of person we aspire to be and the life we wish to lead through storytelling. The next step is to translate these narratives into actionable commitments, which are then realised through particular tasks and habits. The use of NCTs can result in goals that are both inspiring and productive.

Example of NCT framework


I want to become an expert in digital marketing to drive business growth through data-driven online campaigns. I aim to be a leader in leveraging emerging technologies to connect with audiences.


  • Launch 3 high-impact marketing campaigns this year that achieve positive ROI 
  • Become certified in Google Analytics and leading social platforms by Q2
  • Manage the website rebuild project to improve lead gen by 30%


  • Complete Google Analytics Academy course (Target Date: 3/30)
  • Track weekly website traffic and KPIs in Excel dashboard (Every Monday)  
  • Outline strategy and targets for Holiday Email Campaign (7/10)
  • Interview 3 web development agencies (6/30)
  • Document new website requirements aligned to lead gen goals (5/15) 
  • Research emerging social VR marketing opportunities (Friday lunches)


Setting clearly defined goals is essential for individuals and organizations to stay focused, motivated, and achieve intended outcomes successfully. However, not all goal-setting frameworks are equal, and there are several OKR alternatives worth exploring, each with its own strengths.

SMART Goals provide a straightforward and accountable approach to achieving objectives. BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) unite teams behind a long-term vision. WOOP goals help people overcome obstacles. Balanced Scorecards offer a comprehensive and strategic perspective. Rockefeller Habits promote execution through prioritisation and regular routines. EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) provides a complete system for realising a vision. NCTs (Narratives, Commitments, and Tasks) connect everyday tasks to higher-purpose narratives.

When creating quality goals, it's important to have clarity, measurability, ambition, and operational structures in place. The goal-setting framework used should be tailored to your specific needs and scenarios, and testing can help determine its effectiveness for your culture.

Identifying the most effective goal achievement system and executing with excellence fosters focus, alignment, and motivation to consistently achieve targets and accelerate results. Exploring these OKR alternatives can help you find the best fit for your organisation’s unique needs.

What goal achievement frameworks do you rely on?

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Jeremy Yancey

Head of Content, Tability

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