• Jonathan Bullock

OKR back-to-basics that it is good to remember



There are lots of different methods for structuring goal-setting in an organisation. I like to use OKRs. After all, I spent years refining running Google’s global OKR approach.


They get over complicated, so here’s the basics its good to remember.


OKRs are objectives and key results. For example: I will (objective) as measured by (set of key results).


Annual OKRs should be set at the company level, and quarterly OKRs at both the company level and all lower levels.


OKRs create focus, accountability and transparency. They break down strategic-level objectives to the team and individual levels, aligning everyone to work towards the same goals.


OKRs are strategic and KPIs are operational so they are not a replacement, and your organisation will still need both. Equally, the key results of OKRs are most practical when they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound).

OKRs are outcomes that can be measured, rather than specific tasks or activities. They should provide clarity for what should be done next.


OKRs are always “musts… or else”, no “nice-to-haves”.


OKRs should be created collaboratively and, most importantly, must involve the teams and individuals accountable for them. The 'what' should be set from the top down and the 'how' from the bottom up.


Follow up, focus, frequency and be flexible.


When setting any goal or objective, don’t forget to follow up. Frequent check-ins will create accountability and drive execution. Focus so no team or individual should have more than 3–5 objectives that each have 3–5 key results. Check-ins should be frequent – weekly if possible (but not some major scoring review!). And if the OKR isn’t working as a team you can decide to change it!


TAKEAWAY: OKRs are used by many organisations across a range of industries. If your organisation hasn’t started using them yet, you're on the back foot and missing out on the focus, accountability and transparency that come with them.


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