The OKR Process

The OKR Process

Here's a quick recap about what OKRs are:

OKRs stand for Objectives and Key Results.

  • Objectives: Where do you want to go?
  • Key Results: How do you know you have reached your destination?
  • OKRs are typically used to set quarterly goals though they can be customized for yearly, half-yearly or even monthly durations. Goals are ambitious in nature.

    OKRs are usually set at the company and team levels. It is advised to have no more than 3 to 5 Objectives per team per quarter and no more than 3 to 5 related key results per objective.

    Setting up OKRs

    So here comes the big question. How do you go about setting OKRs?

    Step 1: Get the basics right

    If your company is not familiar with OKRs, start by teaching your team about the process and terminology. This will avoid confusion and your teammates will be able to make meaningful contribution to the discussion later.

    Also this would be a good time to discuss the 3Cs - Cycle, Cadence, Creation

  • Cycle - The time frame within which you want to achieve your goals. Usually quarterly but can also be used for annual, half-yearly, monthly OKRs. Decide which works best for your team.
  • Cadence - The schedule you set to update and review the progress on OKRs. OKRs, like any other goal setting frameworks, are not to be set and forget. It is crucial that you update the progress in a timely manner. This will provide the much needed visibility of the progress towards a goal.
    Again, the cadence depends on your team, but most experts recommend checking in weekly.
  • Creation - There are three models in which OKRs can be set - Top Down, Bottom Up and Hybrid.
    The Top Down model is where leaders set both objectives and key results.
    The Bottom Up model is where individuals set both objectives and key results.
    The Hybrid model is where leaders set the objectives and individuals set the key results.
  • Determine the best fit model according to your company size and structure. The OKR experts promote the hybrid model since it allows meaningful collaboration between the leaders and individuals.

    Step 2: Set your objectives

    Have a brainstorming session with your team leaders and decide what the core focus of the company is for the current cycle. Create your objectives accordingly.

    Step 3: Create your key results

    Using the objectives created earlier, come up with key results that can be measured and are indicative of whether you have reached the objective or not.

    Step 4: Track and Update your goals regularly

    Do not skip your check in sessions. These check in sessions are important and provide insights on whether you will reach your goals at the end of the cycle. Do them regularly to monitor your progress.

    Step 5: Retrospect

    Retrospection is as important as planning. This is the time where you gain insights to make sure the next OKR cycle goes well.

    A few questions you can ask:

  • How comfortable were you in achieving your objectives?
  • Do you think the goals were easy, challenging, or unrealistic?
  • Do you feel you had too many or too few goals?
  • It is important to be patient, especially if this is your first time trying OKRs. It usually takes a couple quarters before you have a refined process for setting OKRs.

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