What are OKRs?

OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results and is a goal-setting method which lets each person in a company add goals and/or initiatives in their work. Each person sets up OKRs, often described as a ”future desired state” (objective) and then lists a set of effects that are needed to achieve that desired state (key results).

OKRs are set quarterly and is often made transparent by making them public to the whole company. Updates are made continuous during the quarter, both by the individual holding the OKR (”check-in”) but also by other colleagues and boss (as feedback). OKRs should be set aspirational and is well suited for driving change and engagement in an organisation.

OKRs have gained a lot of traction since it is the goal setting method used by Google which described it as ”imperative to our success”. OKR is as much a leadership method as it is a goal setting method, where the responsibility of setting, describing, reflecting and feedback around current objective is as much the individual’s responsibility as it is the manager’s. Managers are often better suited in taking a coaching approach than a strict command/control approach when working within the OKRs system.

Hence, OKRs is often used as a simplified approach when you want to go from annual performance reviews to a more agile/continuous process where a dialogue around the individual’s development and contribution to the company vision is an ongoing thing. The leadership perspective is often tied to similar perspectives, e.g. Servant Leadership.

An OKR consists of one Objective and several Key Results.

OKRs has two components, a qualitative part; The Objective, and a quantitative part; The Key Results. The Objective has one or several Key Results connected to it. The Objective could be best explained as the desired future state to which one wants to take something. The Key Results are the results that needs to happen to reach that future state.

OKR example

An OKR example for a baker that wants to develop his bakery by making bread faster, without losing any quality in taste. The first row is the Objective, and the other rows are the Key Results that the baker needs to achieve to reach the Objective.