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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Bullock

What does a great OKR objective look like?

Few tools are more effective at aligning the teams across your organisation than OKRs. OKRs have been popularised and used extensively by big tech over the last 20 years. However, implementing OKRs in itself is not enough.

There are plenty of examples where OKRs have been poorly implemented. Usually, this is because OKRs take time and commitment. It is unlikely that your first iteration of OKRs will be perfect.

It will take multiple quarters to refine your process and get everyone on board. The harder part of the OKR is the objective.

Most people progress through stages when writing their objectives, here is what those stages are and hopefully, by being aware of them, you will move through the stages faster.

Stage 1: As an initiative to be done.

Most people tend towards using their initiatives as their objectives in the first iteration. After all, it is something that they want to do during the reporting period. It is also probably the most important work that they are going in the period. However, these aren’t objectives because they were going to be done anyway. To move past this you need to understand why you are doing that initiative.

Stage 2: As a metric or outcome.

Next people start looking towards business metrics for their objectives and write an objective that looks like “achieve this metric by doing this”. The problem with writing your objective this way is that this is more of a key result than an objective.

Stage 3: As a step to a greater goal.

This is the first stage where the objective is an objective. For the first time, your objective is focused on solving a problem that either, you, your customers or your employees have. The objective is essentially the problem being solved.

Stage 4: As a completed outcome

This is close to the objective you want. It is a whole completed outcome or realisation that you will achieve, it is much more than just a metric but not yet something that would inspire and motivate someone to passionately and vigorously pursue it.

Stage 5: As an aspirational completed outcome

This is the desired end state for your objectives. These objectives are complete, motivational, aspirational, inspiring and memorable. They are purposeful and are a point people can easily come back to when decision-making. The question they can ask themselves is will this make progress towards the objective.

TAKEAWAY: For OKRs as in most things, something is better than nothing and perfection truly is the enemy of progress. To be effective though you need to perfect your objectives and the best way to do that is to practice. Perfect your objectives and you will master the OKR.


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