OKRs stand for “objectives and key results” and were first introduced at Intel Corporation by Andy Grove, the legendary CEO. OKRs evolved from other management methods, such as management by objectives, and have been applied across businesses ranging from early-stage startups to global enterprises.
OKRs become famous when Google started using them in the late 1990s; this has been credited as one of the main reasons behind their explosive growth; of course, having a killer product helps, as well. The use of OKRs expanded across Silicon Valley and into various industries across the world. OKRs are a great way for businesses to practice focus and align both individuals and teams behind goals and help stop businesses from drifting off objectives by chasing the next shiny object. This helps organizations develop a culture of a shared purpose, and they have other prominent benefits:
1. The alignment of the objective is vital in ensuring that everyone is moving in the same direction. Taking the example of a rowing boat, everyone must be rowing in the same approach to stop from standing still.
2. Focus ensures that the individuals, teams and the broader organization are doing the work that is important to the overall aims.
3. There has to be transparency in the approach. Therefore, we need to know what others are working on within the organization. There are multiple software platforms that can help in this regard.
4. Lastly, for OKRs to succeed, we need to ensure that the organization is engaged and motivated. This ensures we give OKRs the best chance of succeeding in the organization.
The structure of an OKR (registration required) is as follows, with an example goal for reference:
Objective: Save time wasted in update meetings.
Key result 1: Reduce the number of meetings by 25%.
Key result 2: Reduce average meeting time from 60 minutes to 30 minutes.
Key result 3: Reduce the average number of meeting attendees from 7 to 3.