Your Ultimate Guide to OKRs

OnStrategy is here to help your team with everything OKR—from software, to consulting, to DIY templates and guides. Tap into our best-of-the-best content to help your organization build, implement, and refresh your plan with Objectives and Key Results.

What is an OKR?

OKR is a three-letter acronym for Objectives and Key Results. Popularized by Google, OKRs are a methodology for goal setting and accountability we’ve come to love because it wraps together the time-tested practice of aligning focused goals with a quarterly review process to adapt initiatives (key results).

The power in OKRs is giving your team a framework to connect—and stay connected—to your bigger purpose. See the Full Post.


Objective & Key Results

What is an Objective?

Objectives are annual organization-wide goals with tangible, unambiguous outcomes. The successful achievement of an objective must provide clear value for the organization.

Additionally, we recommend that all objectives be aligned to your long-term vision of success. Without alignment to your vision, OKRs can create “puddles” of focus instead of united, directed action to achieve your desired future state.

Great objectives should:

  • Be a short, one sentence phrase.
  • Start with a verb.
  • Have impact- states what you need to achieve and why.
  • Be annual in nature.

What are Key Results?

Key Results are the “hows” an Objective will be achieved. Key Results are the inputs or deliverables to achieve the output (Objective). Key Results describe deliverables or results, not activities.

There are two common types of Key Results:

Performance Measures/KPIs.
This are Key Results that can be measured with quantifiable results. You can also make these Key Results your Key Performance Indicators!
Strategic Initiatives.
These are project-type Key Results. The achievement of these Key Results is measured by deliverables.

Great Key Results:

  • Start with a verb.
  • Are championed by a manager at the department level, or owned by an individual at the individual level.
  • Are aspirational – a stretch goal. Or, the Key Result is committed–a realistic key results that is achievable.

What are the Benefits of OKRs?

Cascading goals and actions is not new, but here is what is different about adopting an OKR Approach:

  • OKRs foster ownership and a sense of control.
    One of the things that makes the process exciting and dynamic is that OKRs require the team to create commitments to outcomes and deliverables (KRs) that drive the company direction (Objectives).
  • Built-in agility to manage performance quarterly.
    While this idea is present in other processes, quarterly management and then re-setting the next quarter is powerful to connect individual action to company results.
  • OKRs keep your team engaged in your plan and direction every day.
    In a traditional annual planning cycle, teams only look at a strategic plan once a year. An OKR framework keeps the plan in focus on a daily, weekly, and quarterly basis: regular, but not rigid.
  • OKRs create alignment and transparency.
    Everyone knows where the organization is going, and how they contribute and what shifts are being made to meet targets and outcomes.

Get Started with OKR Tools and Services

OnStrategy’s OKR Software to Align Teams & Contributors

OnStrategy is the only OKR software that connects long-term business strategy with your OKRs to help your organization thrive. Our OKR software makes it easy for your teams and individual contributors to create, manage, and track their OKRs.

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OKR Consulting & Coaching

Our OKR Consulting Services put an expert on your team to help build an agile plan. We can coach you through the entire planning process, or we can facilitate your planning sessions and build a complete agile strategic plan for you.

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Free OKR Guides and Cheat Sheets

Guide for Setting OKRs that Work

How do you set OKRs that work? We’ve created an end-to-end guide that covers the basics of OKRs; how to write them, how you can use them to create a plan you can execute, and a canvas for you to develop your own Objectives and Key Results.

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OKR Essentials Cheat Sheet

Trying to make OKRs work in your organization? Don’t miss our free cheat sheet guide for building and refreshing your OKRs including 29 pro tips from our work with clients.

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Run a StrategySprintTM—A Free Guide to Establish a Quarterly Goal/OKR Cycle

The best part of the growing popularity of OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) is how this practice creates agility because it’s based on managing implementation and planning in quarterly increments.

Whether you use OKRs or goals, tap into this free guide to learn how to establish a quarterly review cadence to keep your plan front-and-center.

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OKRs vs. KPIs: A Downloadable Guide to Explain the Difference

What’s the difference between OKRs and KPIs? In our free downloadable guide, we’ll show you how to integrate and simplify these two powerful planning elements.

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Guide to Make Your Plan Agile & Fix Your OKR Mess

Agile planning and OKRs have undeniably changed the way organizations plan—for good reason: keeping your team aligned and focused on a quarterly cycle has a long list of benefits over the traditional annual planning cycle.

How can it go wrong? And what happens when it does? In this guide, we’ll help you fix common issues we see with OKR plans.

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OKR Software Comparison Guide

OKRs have a higher success rate when they’re backed by a purpose-built application.

But in a sea of choices, how are you supposed to decide which OKR app is best for your organization?

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How Google Uses OKRs and Why Our Approach is Better

Trying to make OKRs work in your organization? Don’t miss our free cheat sheet to guide you through building and refreshing your OKRs including 29 pro tips from our work with clients.

Get the Cheat Sheet

Objective & Key Result Whiteboard Videos

What are OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)? OKRs that Work (Part 1/6)
How to Write OKRs (Objective and Key Results). OKRs that Work Part 2/6
Video – How to Cascade OKRs. OKRs that Work (Part 3/6)
How to Score OKRs – OKRs that Work (Part 4/6)
How to Create an OKR Cycle – OKRs that Work (Part 5/6)
Pick an App to Manage Your OKRs (Part 6/6)
OKRs Fail Without a Vision
How to Fix Your OKR Mess
Why Team OKRs are Better
Goals vs. OKRs vs. KPIs
Transform Your OKRs from Good to Great
OKR vs. KPI: What’s the Difference Between the Two?
Q: What’s the Difference Between OKRs and KPIs?

A: The acronym OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. OKRs consist of Objectives, the “what” must be achieved, supported by 3 to 5 Key Results, which describe “how” we will achieve the Objective.

Key Performance Indicators track the core performance of your business. Key Results can also be Key Performance Indicators. Read the full post on OKRs vs KPIs.
Q: What is an OKR Model?

A: An OKR model is a framework for setting objectives that are achieved through a set of quarterly key results. We recommend organization or department objectives be annual in nature. Key results that support those annual objectives are created and refreshed quarterly.
Q: What are OKRs in Business?

A: Objectives and Key Results in business is a framework to create a set of unambiguous outcomes that are achieved through inputs our deliverables in quarterly increments. In other words, objectives are “what” your business wants to achieve, and Key Results are “how” you’ll achieve those outcomes.
Q: How Do You Write OKRs?

A: First, start with writing annual objectives that support your organization’s long-term vision of success. Great objectives:
  • Are a short, one sentence phrase.
  • Start with a verb.
  • Have impact—stating what you need to achieve and why.
  • Are annual in nature.

After your objectives have been written, we recommend creating 3-4 Key Results to support the achievement of that outcome. Great Key Results:
  • Start with a verb
  • Are championed by a manager at the department level, or owned by an individual at the individual level.
  • Are aspirational – a stretch goal. Or, the Key Result is committed–a realistic key result that is achievable.
  • Articulate a deliverable or have a quantifiable measure of success.
Q: Why do OKRs Fail?

A: There are many reasons OKRs fail; three common reasons include OKRs are not connected to your long-term vision, not using a dedicated OKR software app, and not reviewing or refreshing OKRs at least quarterly.
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