OKRs for Startups


How to write good Objectives – with examples

How to write good Objectives – with examples

Sten Pittet - CEO
STen Pittet
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Why are good Objectives important?

OKRs are an effective way to amplify the focus of your organisation during the quarter. Once OKRs are set, most of your teams' efforts will be dedicated to achieving these goals.

In this context, it is crucial to set the right direction through great Objectives. Vague or unrelatable Objectives will make it hard for people to understand how they can contribute to the success of the business. Worse, it can also cause confusion and result in many wasted projects.

How to write good Objectives for work

Focus on impact

A good Objective should describe the outcomes you expect from all the actions you'll take during the quarter.

Your objectives should describe the expected state of things at the end of the quarter.

If your team is working on a Stripe integration, then your Objective is not to "Integrate with Stripe". It is to "Get our first paying customers". Building a Stripe integration is just one of the things you'll need to be able to charge for your product and services. But, it focuses on the technical work and ignores all the Marketing and Sales efforts that will also be required.

If an Objective feels like a task, then ask yourself why you're doing it. It will often lead back to your real Objective.

Touch multiple teams

The example above also highlights another aspect of good Objectives: multiple teams should be able to relate to them. "Integrate with Stripe" is a project that devs will understand, but someone in Marketing will probably not think much of it. On the other hand, "Get our first paying customers" is something that multiple teams can use to establish a plan for the quarter. Marketing can work on getting leads, Sales will establish conversion goals, Engineering/Product will set KRs relating to the billing system.

Good objectives should touch multiple teams

It's about framing our sentences in a way that expands the internal reach.

Describe the future you aspire to

Here's a trick to make writing Objectives easier:

  1. Project yourself in the future, 3 months from now.
  2. Write statements that are not yet realized, and that you want to be true about your org, team, or business.

Here are some examples:

  • If we do not yet have product/market-fit: "Our users love our product".
  • If we do not yet have brand equity: "We're recognized as a thought-leader"

Take 5 minutes to write different statements, then vote to see which ones are deemed the most important. The top 3 statements should be quite closed to your Objectives.

Adopt a clear, simple language

A good Objective should be understood by anyone in your org, regardless of their job. Avoid team-specific language and cryptic metrics. For instance, rather than saying "Improve Apdex", the Engineering team could simply have "Performance is seen as a key selling point".

This now becomes a much more interesting Objective because the Marketing team can look at this and start thinking about ways to include performance in their messaging.

Avoid metrics if possible

Do your best to leave metrics and targets in your Key Results. This is a rule of thumb, and you'll certainly break it, but having targets in Objectives usually makes them very specific, which might prevent your teams from finding creative solutions to stretch themselves outside of hitting classic KPIs.

"We have signed 10 Enterprise customers" sounds more like a Key Result for the Sales team than an Objective for the company. On the other hand, "We're a valued solution for Enterprise customers" feels like more teams can be involved – and it lets people explore different aspects of Enterprise-readiness. Product can figure out the missing Enterprise features, Customer Experience can work on a stellar Support program.

Examples of good Objectives

We have many examples of great Objectives in our library of OKRs templates. You'll also find below some other Objectives taken from our OKRs guides.

Examples of Objectives for Marketing

Here are Objective examples taken from our OKRs examples for Marketing:

  • Become the #1 online resource for the problem we solve
  • Increase brand awareness through content
  • Turn paid Marketing into an efficient channel for leads

Examples of Objectives for Product

Here are Objective examples taken from our OKRs examples for Product:

  • We achieve Product-Market fit
  • Launch a successful MVP
  • Significantly improve our user experience
  • Our users can onboard the product with success

Examples of Objectives for Engineering

Here are Objective examples taken from our OKRs examples for Engineering:

  • Tackle the technical debt generated by feature rush
  • Accelerate development through automation
  • Build a world-class infrastructure

Examples of Objectives for Customer Success

Here are Objective examples taken from our OKRs examples for Customer Success:

  • Make responsiveness a priority for new users
  • Reduce activation churn through high-touch onboarding
  • Leverage positive feedback to build brand authority

What's next?

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