Have you ever heard about OKR (Objectives and Key Results)? It is a goal-setting methodology that creates alignment and engagement around measurable goals. It was created in the ‘70s, however it only gained fame with Google in the late ‘90s supporting their growth from 40 people in 1999 to over 60,000 today. So, what is the magic of OKR? The answer would be that companies become better focused on the right objectives, driving alignment across teams, reducing the risk of spending time and resources on topics off the strategy-path by setting goals, tracking and evaluating them at a faster cadence, traditionally by quarters. Let’s talk a little bit more about it.
Setting Goals and Key Results
The first step would be setting a Goal. A Goal shall be a full sentence, a description of the desire, something to be inspired by, for example, ‘’Fascinate my clients’’. Key Results are a set of quantitative and measurable metrics to evaluate how you are going towards the goal. It’s recommended for a goal to have minimum of 2 and maximum of 5 key results. If it has more, or less than that, the objectivity will be compromised.
– Goal: Have the coolest blog in Japan.
– Key Result 1: Increase number of subscribers from X to Y.
– Key Result 2: Make at least 1 post a week
– Key Result 3: Keep customer acquisition cost below Z.
So, a desire that was subjective, aligned with Key Results, now became objective, measurable and evaluable.
After a Goal and Key Results are created, it’s time to think about how to track and evaluate. It’s important to have in mind that OKRs are focused on short term goals, and in each quarter, it can be improved to go towards the mission.
For a company’s Goals = Mission, a longer term might be determined, since they are usually established by higher hierarchy levels and are linked to the corporate, long-term strategies. On the other hand, OKRs for teams or individuals, shorter cycles, normally quarterly, are set as Goals for they tend to be changed and adapted in a shorter term.
Of course, depending on each company, cadences can be customized according to the business characteristics. For example, a small company that sells bento boxes, may need shorter cycles as their business has daily/weekly cycle, unlike a company that sells computers that may have longer processes.
Driving alignment across teams
Usually OKRs are open to all the company, meaning that anyone can contribute. For example, a marketing person can contribute to an HR OKR, such as ‘’Hire new graduates passionate about technology’’ (Goal) and ‘’Interview 15 candidates’’ (KR).The marketing person can forward the resume of someone he/she knows who has these characteristics, and this would generate engagement between teams.
Therefore, companies that adopt OKR typically have a differentiated sense of unity compared to companies where goals are not open to different sectors. It can be said that transparency brought in by OKR increases alignment, generating a good organizational environment.
After setting expectations and understanding how to set goals and track them, do you wonder which tool to use?
Here at ISAO, we truly believe in the benefits of OKR and we developed a corporate SNS based on this methodology, named Goalous. It has tools to help manage your goals, which can make a significant contribution for achievements for each project or department.
Derived from OKR, we created GKA (Goals, Key Results and Actions), which basically includes the actions in the OKR process. Progress can be shared with the entire team in real time.
An action is a performed activity and is linked to a Key Result. For example, imagine that you visited a customer, and an existing Key Result was to present Product “A” to 100 customers, you can take a photo of the meeting and post as an Action. It can be shared for everyone to see at the Action function, and the KR progresses.
As it is posted at the news feed where everyone within the organization sees the progress for that specific goal, and by receiving likes and comments from your colleagues, it motivates everyone to take initiatives for more actions for your goal. This will automatically result in better understanding from what the path towards your goal is supposed to be.
Goalous is free to try for 15 days. If you want your company to be goal oriented, why not consider introducing it?
Organizational changes usually aren’t an easy job, but surely worth the effort, considering that we live in a world with constant changes. Moreover, these changes often end up being more of a necessity than an option.
OKR is being used all around the world, not only on IT market but also on banking, retail, services and many other segments. Besides Google, there are a lot of well-known companies that uses OKR, such as Uber, LinkedIn, Twitter, Sears, Zynga, Oracle, Yahoo!, Spotify, Box, GoPro, Flipboard, etc. Goalous is an amazing tool to help you to enter in this world, starting your business to be goal oriented and that could be an ideal starting point to a real game change.
Enjoy your work, achieve your goal!