The OKR methodology: Your handy explainer

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What if there was a simpler way to articulate your goals and grow your business? Introducing OKRs, the goal-setting methodology behind the success of Google, LinkedIn, Netflix and many other players big and small. When executed well, OKRs promote transparent, outcome-driven and accountable teams.

We’re here to simplify the framework and help you do OKRs correctly. In this guide, you’ll discover how to understand the methodology, practice implementation and eventually nail your OKRs.

What are OKRs?

OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results and is conveniently titled in the order of implementation. They allow small businesses, multi-million dollar enterprises or even your grandma to create, implement and track goals in a measured and timely way.

Let’s break it down.

O — Objectives

It’s simple — objectives are your goals. They should be based on research and specifically define an area of improvement.

KRs — Key Results

Key results are a way to determine the success of your objectives. They should be SMART — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. KRs often include hard numbers.

Initiatives and weekly participation are two other key elements of the OKRs methodology. They’re there to drive the KRs and track their progress.

What is the OKRs methodology?

Before the OKRs came the MBO — the spark it took Intel CEO Andy Grove to develop the methodology. Management consultant Peter Drucker came up with ‘Management By Objectives’, a way to use yearly goals to drive growth, and Andy Grove upgraded this formula, introducing KRs to the equation.

It wasn’t until former Intel management staff member John Doerr crafted the term OKRs and introduced it to Google in 1999 that it really showed what it could achieve. The immense growth of Google became the crowning achievement of OKRs, shooting the management tool into fame.

What does the OKRs methodology look like now?

Let’s shift focus to the present. Fast-forward a few decades and we’ve got a tried-and-true framework for delivering results. Here’s what the plan looks like:

  1. Identify your champions

What are goals without accountability? Champions are tasked to hold the team responsible for your organisation’s OKRs. Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds. Accountability isn’t micromanaging — it’s about transparency and commitment. Can everyone achieve their projects, and more importantly, do they understand their task’s value?

  1. Set objectives

Objectives are highly subjective. While most for-profit organisations will agree that growing revenue is an overarching goal, it takes multiple objectives working together to acheive. There are many ways to find priorities, but combining the Product Lifecycle and AARRR Funnel is one of our favourites.

  1. List key results

Key results aren’t projects, they’re what you’re aiming to achieve to fulfil your objectives.

An easy formula is ‘Improve <metric> from X to Y’, which outlines what you want to achieve and brings attainability to attention. Within the Tability app, assign a member of your organisation to your initiatives to place focus on outcomes.

  1. Implement initiatives

Initiatives are the actionable weekly projects that will help you achieve results. Keep this list as concise as possible, allowing room for expansion. Initiatives are also a great way to track what’s working and what isn’t.

  1. Track progress and outcomes

OKRs are pointless without the analytics provided by regular tracking. Tability sends your team a weekly reminder when it’s time to check in, alongside a report detailing your progress.

What are some examples of the OKR methodology?

If you’ve ever increased your treadmill’s speed at the gym to match the person next to you, you know that comparison can be incredibly motivating. Whether you’re looking to spark inspiration or simply want to check that your goals are reasonable, here’s a list of OKR methodology examples.

Marketing OKRs examples

Objective: Improve website traffic

KR1: Write 10 articles per month

  • Create and distribute briefs across internal team
  • Commission freelancer to write 5 articles a month

KR2: Increase organic traffic from 50% to 70%

  • Improve meta descriptions
  • Use long-tail keywords

KR3: Acquire featured snippet for 5 keywords

  • Improve and update blog structure
  • Optimise content for users, not Google

Sales OKRs examples

Objective: Increase profits

KR1: Achieve 20% growth this quarter

  • Hire marketing specialist
  • Introduce new product range

KR2: Reduce customer churn from 36% to 20%

  • Engage with customers through EDMs
  • Ask customers to fill out feedback form

KR3: Increase cold calling from 50 calls to 100 calls per week

  • Implement call checklist and deadlines

HR OKRs examples

Objective: Improve employee satisfaction

KR1: Collect feedback from 90% of staff

  • Create a feedback form using Google Forms
  • Send a follow-up email on Friday

KR2: Organise 3 events this quarter

  • Determine event budget
  • Create a poll on Slack with event options

KR3: Increase bonuses by 10%

  • Seek approval from HR lead
  • Discuss bonus increases with managers

For the complete collection of OKRs samples, visit our examples library.

The benefits of the OKR methodology in your business

1. Alignment

Any business with more than one operating team will encounter misalignment issues at some stage. When the finance team defines their goals through KPIs, the content team uses Google Sheets and the digital team has a whiteboard, it can cloud visibility across departments. When using the OKR framework, each team operates in the same language, helping them to work self-sufficiently and correct disparities quickly.

2. Productivity

With OKRs SMART goals and initiatives, teams can increase productivity by implementing focus. Rather than juggling dozens of responsibilities, we recommend beginning with a 3x3 matrix — 3 objectives and 3 KRs per objective.

3. Insights

With weekly reporting, OKRs are a straightforward way to track where teams are flourishing and where there’s room for improvement. Visibility also allows organisations to ensure everyone is working toward the same objective in a time-bound manner.

4. Empowered teams

A cascading approach is old school — organisations are moving toward smaller teams with more ownership. OKRs allow teams to share a purpose and take the reigns, encouraging flexible, creative output while still working toward the same goals.

5. Accountability

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again, accountability is a good thing! If you want to have empowered teams, self-management and commitment are critical. OKRs tracking tools like Tability allow you to track progress and take action whether you get ahead or fall behind.

Master your OKRs with Tability

Ready to set your OKRs? With outcome-driven goals, qualitative objectives and measurable key results, you can bridge the gap between strategy and execution. Get started with Tability for free and begin your business growth journey today.

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Monika Gudova

Content Writer and Editor

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