Guide: Set goals with OKRs

Set objectives and develop key results

When setting objectives, Google often starts with the organizational OKRs and aligns priorities using three to five objectives with about three key results for each objective. Successful OKRs can often come from a mix of top-down and bottom-up suggestions, allowing individuals from all over the organization to voice what they believe is worth their time and how they can best apply their efforts.

Tips for setting objectives:

  • Pick just three to five objectives - more can lead to over-extended teams and a diffusion of effort.
  • Avoid expressions that don’t push for new achievements, e.g., “keep hiring,” “maintain market position,” “continue doing X.”
  • Use expressions that convey endpoints and states, e.g., “climb the mountain,” “eat 5 pies,” “ship feature Y.”
  • Use tangible, objective, and unambiguous terms. It should be obvious to an observer whether or not an objective has been achieved. Research shows more specific goals can result in higher performance and goal attainment.

Tips for developing key results:

  • Determine around three key results per objective.
  • Key results express measurable milestones which, if achieved, will directly advance the objective.
  • Key results should describe outcomes, not activities. If the KRs include words like “consult,” “help,” “analyze,” “participate,” they’re describing activities. Instead, describe the impact of these activities, e.g., “publish customer service satisfaction levels by March 7th” rather than “assess customer service satisfaction.”
  • Measurable milestones should include evidence of completion and this evidence should be available, credible, and easily discoverable.

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