Two terms that you often hear in business settings are “objectives” and “key results.” A business conducts its operations with a simple goal in mind: to meet its objectives and enhance sales and profits. To do this, the business breaks down larger objectives into smaller action items that are easily executable.
This, in essence, is what the OKR framework is all about.
Before we get into how the model can help companies propel their business forward and boost their bottom line, let’s break it down and understand it in detail.
What Are Objectives and Key Results?
Objectives are goals that companies set out for themselves regarding what they want to achieve in the short and long term. They define what the company is working toward as it optimizes its operations and gives itself direction to accomplish its aims. Objectives are:
Key results, on the other hand, are measurements of how the company will get there. These are quantifiable actions that are highly targeted and specific with one end goal in mind: to reach the objective laid out by the company. While the overall objective of the company can be oriented towards the long term, key results are often short-term courses of action–stepping-stones to get to the final destination. Some characteristics of key results include, but are not limited to, the following:
The key results are assessed on two levels–the department level and the individual level. The organizational objective, which is set by the company leadership, is assessed through key results that are achieved by various departments across the company. But that’s not all–the key results of individual employees across the department contribute to certain department-level key results.
In this way, the model syncs the entire organizational machinery and horizontally and vertically integrates efforts to achieve the end Objective. In addition, it aligns employees’ individual goals to the goals of the company, resulting in enhanced efficiency and productivity.
Putting the OKR Framework into Action
So, how do you build an OKR model for a particular goal? This is what you need to do:
Let’s look at the framework through an easy-to-understand example:
Let’s say a business wants to build a new company website. In a large-scale task like this one, there will be numerous objectives with a number of key results for each. Here are a few examples of the OKRs involved in website development.
Objective: Finalize website design
Objective: Create content for the website.
Objective: Boost the SEO performance of the website.
There are many other objectives and key results that come together to result in the creation of a highly functional and user-friendly website.
How the OKR Framework Helps Businesses Meet Their Goals
OKRs gear all sorts of companies for success, ranging from small- to medium-sized enterprises to large global giants. One such example is Google. One of Google’s investors, John Doerr, talks about the role of OKRs in the company’s operations in his book, Measure What Matters. The company credits the framework for helping it achieve the success that it has.
Here’s why the model is so beneficial for business organizations:
The OKR framework facilitates organizations in tracking and managing the progress on their goals at any given time. This allows them to recalibrate if things aren’t going according to plan.
It allows different departments to come together and work on various elements of an objective in real-time–collaboration is facilitated greatly.
It aligns the goals of the individual employee to the larger goals of the organization, enhancing a sense of accountability and ownership.
Enhanced Focus and Productivity
The focus and productivity of the entire team witnesses a boost as large, complicated tasks are broken down into smaller, more manageable items. The role of each department and each individual employee is clearly laid out, leaving little room for confusion or ambiguity.
Whether you’re just starting out in the business world or are a large enterprise, incorporating OKRs into your company’s strategic decisions increases alignment and helps lay out a clear path to success.