OKRs – objectives and key results – are not just management theory. Let's take a look at why your start-up isn’t too small to begin using them.
Small start-ups are always pressed for time. It's therefore crucial for team members to be aligned and focused on reaching the same strategic objectives. OKRs can help you achieve exactly that.
OKRs have been popularised by their use in major tech companies like Google and IBM. Many small start-ups therefore write them off as an unnecessary overhead only for big business. This is a mistake.
Any start-up that has more than 10-20 people should have some form of OKRs.
OKRs provide focus. Start-ups always have more tasks to do than resources available to do them. OKRs overcome this by setting a simple objective and establishing the key results needed to achieve it.
When everything is a focus, nothing is. This results in the organisation becoming stagnant and not moving towards its goals. OKRs, by their design, force you to decide what the priority is.
Review your OKRs. After setting your initial OKRs, regularly review them. Once the OKRs are in place, you should see a positive change and new focus in your team. If you are in a meeting and that meeting is not clearly working towards your OKRs, it's time to review them:
Start by considering if the objectives you have set are the right ones. Do they represent where you want to be at the end of the period?
Next, consider your key results, making them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Finally, you may need to narrow the key results. Make sure they aren’t too ambitious and can be achieved within the allocated time.
TAKEAWAY: OKRs will help your team to focus on achieving the same objectives. However, in my experience, the first OKRs you set won’t be perfect. The key is to not lose faith; keep learning, keep trying. The best way to learn to do it right is by doing it wrong.