This is the first in a series of posts introducing and discussing the simple, powerful & dynamic 'OKR' system for goal setting and execution.
OKRs were famously introduced to Google by John Doerr who brought the idea from Intel.
Ever since, their adoption has spread like wildfire accelerating business growth, translating strategy into action and turbo charging team performance where ever they go. Today they are in use in some of our most successful organisations.
Objectives & Key Results (OKR's)
OKR’s are a system to prioritize and communicate and to get everybody’s efforts focused on the few things that really matter most.
As the name suggests, the system has two components, Objectives and Key Results
Objectives – An ambitious, inspirational, far-reaching statement of the goal you most want to achieve.
Key results – A list of specific, tangible, measurable outcomes that will result by the achievement of your objective.
The magic lies in the combination of these two opposing forces, of art and science. The draw of the motivational goal as stated in the objective and the rigorous analytical focus on the tracking and measurement of key results creates a powerful catalyst for achievement.
To increase focus and create a sense of urgency OKR's are set for a short time frame, usually one quarter, with regular commitment to action and celebration of achievement along the way. This regular practice of setting goals and measuring results every quarter creates a cadence that translates strategy into action and action into valuable business results.
This is an example shared by former Google employee Niket Desai, of how Uber might use OKRs to work towards their ultimate company goal of being the most readily available ride-sharing service in the world:
Increase Drivers in the Uber System
As Measured By (Key Results)
KR1: Increase driver base in each region by 20%
KR2: Increase driver average session to 26 hours/weekly in all active regions
Increase geographical coverage of drivers
As Measured By (Key Results
KR1: Increase coverage in San Francisco to 100%
KR2: Increase coverage for all active cities to 75%
KR3: Decrease pickup time to <10min in any coverage area during peak hours
Solving how to meet these OKRs is up to the team but a good OKR helps align them with company mission and strategy.
OKR's & Leadership
Setting great OKR’s is all about great leadership.
OKR's should stretch us and present us with complex, difficult but important challenges to solve. They should be exciting and frightening in equal parts. OKR's should describe a goal that we really want to achieve but not describe the solution. It is in the solving of the challenge that we tap into the powerful force of intrinsic motivation. Implementing a system of OKR's can help leaders to ignite passion and align effort with the vision and mission of the organisation.
In future posts I will discuss aligning the use of OKR's across the business, setting up a cadence of goal-setting & delivery and creating a culture of collaboration and communication that is the heart of every successful implementation.
By Mark Faulkner
Director, Mark Faulkner People Development