If it’s good enough for Google, right? The Objectives and Key Results (OKR) management framework popularised by Google has gained enormous traction in recent years. But what does the OKR approach involve? In this article, I’ll give a very quick overview of the OKR process, followed by plenty of practical OKR examples.
What are OKRs?
I’ve written in depth about OKRs, so I’ll give just a very brief summary of the framework here.
The OKR framework is a process for setting goals. It’s broken down into two parts: your Objective (what you want to achieve) and your Key Results (what success looks like). So, each goal has an O, supported by related KRs.
In other words, OKRs give organisations a means to set a goal then define how they’ll get there. That, in a nutshell, is pretty much it.
OKRs work at all levels of a business, meaning you can have company-wide OKRs, team or department OKRs, and individual employee OKRs. Ideally, the company-wide OKRs will inform the team OKRs, which, in turn, will inform the individual OKRs. This fosters a sense of everyone in the business working towards common goals.
Perhaps the best way to explain this is with a practical example. Imagine a fictional yoga-wear company with a growing high street presence. This business (let’s call it “Downward Frock” just for fun) might set a company-wide OKR of…
Objective (O), company:
- Increase revenue by 15% in FY2019.
Key Results (KRs), company:
- Reach monthly revenue of £150,000.
- Number of online sales increased by 25% by end of Q4.
- Two new stores opened per quarter.
This might, in turn, lead to the following OKR for the marketing team…
Objective (O), marketing:
- Grow brand awareness by achieving record marketing metrics in FY2019.
Key Results (KRs), marketing:
- Mailing list subscribers grown to 50,000.
- Website visitors grown to 100,000.
- Instagram followers grown to 70,000.
Meanwhile, an individual marketing executive might have an OKR of…
Objective (O), marketing exec:
- Implement a weekly email update for subscribers.
Key Results (KRs), marketing exec:
- Content strategy finalised by end of January.
- Number of subscribers grown by 20% per month, reaching 50,000 by year end.
- Email open rate of 20%.
- Click rate of 3%.
Different OKRs for different business functions
Hopefully, the above examples have given you a solid idea of how OKRs work. Now let’s look at some sample OKRs across a range of different business functions.
O: Increase employee engagement.
KR: Employee Net Promoter score increased from 6 to 8.
KR: Absenteeism reduced by 25%.
KR: Number of signups for wellness programme increased by 40%.
O: Improve accuracy of annual sales forecasting process.
KR: Train line managers in BI reporting tool by end of July.
KR: Half-day planning sessions conducted with each department head by end of October.
KR: All forecasts completed by end of November.
O: Improve understanding of customer behaviours.
KR: Map customer journey.
KR: Survey 100 customers on what influences their buying decisions.
O: Improve sales lead process.
KR: 4,000 calls per salesperson per quarter.
KR: 90% of enquiries followed up within 24 hours.
KR: Create scripted questions to capture sales lead data more accurately.
O: Improve customer experience of contacting us.
KR: Call wait times reduced to under 1 minute.
KR: All non-urgent complaints resolved within 24 hours.
KR: Urgent complaints resolved within 90 minutes.
O: Create a product that delights our customers.
KR: Build user testing into design phase.
KR: Net Promoter Score increased from 6 to 8.
Where to go from here
If you would like to know more about the OKR approach to objective setting, cheque out my articles on:
Bernard Marr is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and advisor to companies and governments. He has worked with and advised many of the world's best-known organisations. LinkedIn has recently ranked Bernard as one of the top 10 Business Influencers in the world (in fact, No 5 - just behind Bill Gates and Richard Branson). He writes on the topics of intelligent business performance for various publications including Forbes, HuffPost, and LinkedIn Pulse. His blogs and SlideShare presentation have millions of readers.