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OKRs, if you’re not using them for Quarterly Planning, stop and Read this

Please note this is a modified article from Emily Bonnie, originally written on April 7th, 2017. That article can be found here https://www.wrike.com/blog/okrs-quarterly-planning/.

It’s that time of the year: you’re capping off a successful 2018 and reflecting on everything you’ve accomplished in the past twelve months. But it’s not only a time to look back; it’s a time to look ahead. What do you want to accomplish in the coming year, and what’s the best way to go about it? 

Many leading companies tout OKRs for successful annual and quarterly planning; in fact Google credits the process with fueling their exponential growth and success. Even if you’ve heard of OKRs, you may be curious about the details. This overview explains the basics of the method, shows you how to set OKRs, and covers the details you need to start putting it into practice. 

“What are OKRs, anyway?”

OKR, which stands for Objectives and Key Results, is a planning and goal setting technique made famous by Intel and Google. OKRs represent aggressive goals and define the measurable steps you’ll take towards achieving those goals. They’re typically used to set quarterly goals but can also be used for annual planning. 

OKRs are set at the company, team, and individual level. Here’s a set of OKR examples: 

Company OKR 1:
Objective: Become the #1 most-downloaded iOS Productivity App
— Key Result 1: Conduct survey to identify 10 most-requested features and launch 5 of the top most-requested features by Nov 15
— Key Result 2: Conduct 10 user tests to identify UX issues
— Key Result 3: Show at least 50% improvement in satisfaction with UX (via customer survey)
— Key Result 4: Earn 200 5-star ratings by Dec 31

Company OKRs focus on big-picture goals, team OKRs define priorities for each department, and personal OKRs pinpoint what an individual will be working on. You’ll have multiple OKRs at each level, but no more than 5 objectives with 4 key results each. Otherwise you’ll stretch yourself too thin and won’t be able to make much of an impact on any of them. 

Although OKRs are created at these three different levels, they all should connect and support each other:

It’s important to note that OKRs are not meant for annual review purposes or for evaluating employee performance. They’re ambitious targets meant to push employees and the company as a whole forward. 

OKRs can be useful as references for employees, since they’ll always have a concise summary of exactly what they’ve accomplished in the last quarter/year, backed up with hard data, to quantify their contributions to the company. 

OKRs must be: 

1. Ambitious

2. Measurable

3. Public 

4. Graded

“Why should I bother with OKRs?”

What are the benefits of OKRs? Why choose this technique over other planning methods? 

 

  1. OKRs promote disciplined, focused thinking.

  2. OKRs establish clear standards for measuring progress.

  3. OKRs are public brings improved transparency and more accurate communication. 

  4. Efforts are more centralized and collaborative. 

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