How to write good Objectives

Sten Pittet - CEO
STen Pittet

See how you can write better Objectives for your OKRs plans.

Here's a short post to give you a couple of tips on writing good Objectives.

Focus on impact

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

If your team is working on a Stripe integration, then your Objective is not to "Integrate with Stripe". It is to "Have 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.

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 is dangerous because it will restrict creativity.

"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. Product can figure out the missing Enterprise features, Customer Experience can work on a stellar Support program.

What's next?

✨ Want simpler OKRs? Get them out of spreadsheets✨

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