OKRs methodology: the “what”, “how” and “why”

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Lucia Pons

Sep 27, 2022

OKRs methodology: the "what", "how" and "why"

We hear a lot about objectives, goals, and focusing efforts to achieve the desired results. It’s important to know which direction you want to go before you start your journey, so in this post, we'll share with you the OKRs methodology that we use at Gretel.

We’ll even provide you with a Notion template for setting your own 🙌! We hope it’s useful for you. Let’s go!

The “what”: What are OKRs?

If you’re working in a digital business or modern company, you probably work with objectives and you have heard about OKRs (if you haven't already implemented them 😉).

For those of you who haven't yet worked with them, we’ll make a brief introduction: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are a simple, black-and-white way to track goal achievement that uses precise measurements.

This methodology was developed in the 1970s by Andrew Grove, former CEO of Intel, and it went viral in 1999 thanks to the diffusion of John Doerr, a Google investor. 👉 Here’s the famous video.

Companies such as Google, Amazon, LinkedIn, Twitter, Spotify, Airbnb, Accenture, and Netflix have used this strategy since then to focus on specific actions and plan where they want to go over the next quarter.

“OKRs are valuable as a tool to prioritize initiatives and define the desired outcomes from those goals. OKRs establish the purpose (objective) and the desired outcomes you want to affect with your work (key results)." Chen Rekhi (Executive Coach).

Andrew Grove's methodology is based on the premise that teams perform best when they are focused on the outcome rather than the process. Instead of instructing people on what to do, they set clear goals and leave it up to them to figure out how to attain them.

Companies that use OKRs can better visualize their priorities and see the link between their goals and strategy. Nonetheless, Asana discovered in a study that, "despite the fact that most companies set their goals, only 16% of knowledge workers state that their company correctly sets and communicates corporate goals."

That's why we encourage you to implement this methodology and share it with your entire team! 💪

If you want to read more about the definition of OKRs, Sten Pittet from tability explains them in their complete 2022 guide to OKRs.

The “how”: How to implement OKRs?

In Grove's handbook "High Output Management," Perdomo founder and CEO Henrik-Jan van der Pol raises two key questions for building OKRs:

  1. Where do I want to go?
  2. How will I know I will get there?

These questions must be addressed at the organizational, departmental, team, and eventually individual levels, so all parties are aligned and OKRs support the top company priorities.

To establish OKRs, we must first understand their structure. OKRs are made up of Objectives and Key Results.

  • Objectives (O) must be something that you want to achieve during a specific period. They have to be specific and challenging for the organization and should not be easily met.
  • Key results (KR) are the goals that will have a direct impact on archiving the objectives.

As a result, an objective is a qualitative statement, whereas key results are quantitative, measurable, and concrete actions to achieve the objective.

To define the objectives, you can brainstorm with your team (this is our favorite part 🤩), and then prioritize which of them are most relevant. To organize them, you can use prioritization techniques such as stacked ranking or the ICE scoring system.

This procedure should result in 3 to 5 objectives and 3 to 5 key results for each aim.

Generally, the method is applied over a certain period of time.

Companies, such as Google, set an overall annual goal and then specify the quarterly objectives that must be accomplished in order to achieve that final goal. At Gretel, despite the fact that we are a startup and that things can change quickly, we also work with these periods.

To give you some examples, we will share with you our marketing objectives and key results from Gretel for Q2 2022, although we won’t tell you the grade we got 😜:

OBJECTIVE #1: Increase Website Traffic x3.

Key results:

  • Unique pageviews 300,000.
  • Blog traffic 30% of website traffic.
  • Ads to be improved with an overall CTR 5%.

OBJECTIVE #2: Increase Social Media x3.

Key results:

  • Increase LinkedIn followers to 30K.
  • Twitter total impressions 15k per month.
  • LinkedIn total impressions 30k per month.

Get your free OKRs template!

To help you establish the OKRs, here’s our OKRs template edited from the original by Theo Ohene.

Download now
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Once OKRs are set, follow-up and monitoring must be done so that at the end of the period, the key results are scored. To measure them, each key result is evaluated from 0 to 1 or from 0 to 100.

You should obtain an average score of 0.6-0.8. A higher score indicates that you have not set sufficiently ambitious goals, while a lower score indicates that you have gone overboard (or that you didn’t have the right tools for it).

In order to correct this, you should share your OKRs with the rest of the team and make them public, both when set and after evaluating them, so that everyone in your company understands what you worked on, and more importantly what issues remain unresolved.

The Why: Why set OKRs?

Well, with the number of huge corporations that we mentioned above using this method, you can imagine that it must have some advantages. Here are a few of them:

  • 🎯 Focus on what matters: it’s easy to get distracted and want to do everything, but that only drives disaster. Focusing on a number of tasks to achieve specific objectives allows us to focus on our day-to-day activities and understand our priorities.
  • 🎳Transparency: it’s essential for productive work! Being aligned and aware of the company's efforts allows you to feel fulfilled and understand why you do what you do.
  • 🏈 Align the team: by setting common objectives, you commit the whole team to achieving those goals and to working on their individual tasks. It also enhances team collaboration.
  • 🏆 The more, the merrier: the more individuals that strive for a common objective, the sooner we will arrive, right?
  • 🙋 Responsibility for the company goals: As each goal is defined based on the company goals, you will see how your initiatives and actions impact the company, and furthermore, how they can affect other departments.
  • 🤖 Agile method: consistent evaluation allows you to make quicker decisions and learn from mistakes faster.
  • 📈 Easy to measure: by establishing quantifiable key results, you will tangibly monitor the outcome of an objective and determine how close you are to the goal.

It's no surprise that Google, Twitter, Dropbox, and a slew of other companies follow a similar approach. What are you waiting for? Give it a shot and implement OKRs for your marketing team.

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