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Ep11: Objectives & Key Results (OKRs)

Welcome to another Agile101! Here I'll cover Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) as a framework to share and measure strategy.

Benefits of OKR include improved focus, increased transparency, it’s decoupled from bonuses, bottom up driven, and better alignment between teams.

OKRs originated in 1954, when Peter Drucker developed the concept of Management by Objectives. In 1968, Andy Grove, CEO of Intel, developed MBO into the model of OKR which we use today. In 1974, John Doerr joined Intel and learned OKR during his time there. In 1999, he introduced OKRs at Google.

In OKR, the Objective is WHAT you want to achieve. The Key Results is HOW you will achieve this.

Set an audacious Objective by being idealistic, not realistic. After discovering a goal that inspires you, scale it back until it’s just short of impossible. Less is more. ‘A few extremely well-chosen objectives impart a clear message about what we say ‘yes’ to and what we say ‘no’ to’.

A strong set of Key Results are specific and measurable, typically 3-5 measurements that indicate you’re moving closer to your Objective. Key results are like gauges on a dashboard.

If you're approaching 100% on all your key results, you've failed. Aim for an average key result score of 70% on target. Stay challenged!

Remember to frequently check in against your OKRs, it will keep you accountable for setting challenging key result targets and making progress on those key results.

How OKRs ladder up to the Corporate Purpose, Vision & Strategy, and also to Epics, User Stories and even Tasks

There are other goal-setting frameworks you could consider, including Balanced Scorecard, SMART, and KPIs.

Leading key results are activity-based and measure the completion of tasks or deliverables. Examples include: Release x new features in the product; Develop x new lead generation campaigns, or Delivery of x training sessions.

Lagging key results are value-based and measure the impact or outcome. Some examples: Improve NPS, Increase new connections from X to Y, Reduce disconnections from X% to Y%.

I recommend watching this TED video by John Doerr. You might even hear Bono from U2 talk about how he uses OKRs!

If you really want to know more visit his website, or buy his book.

This post was first published here.


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