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What are OKRs? A Simple Definition with Many Examples

June 4, 2021
2 minutes
Emily Vo

Kaisa Savola

a girl typing on computer about her OKRs at work
January 2, 2022

What are OKRs? A Simple Definition with Many Examples

2 minutes
Kaisa Savola

Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs, the buzzword in all sizes of companies near and far. Many of us have read the Measure What Matters book, how to get started with OKR blogs, and stories on how Google has used OKRs to set ambitious goals and track progress. All of them getting us so hyped and excited! But what exactly are OKRs?

What are OKRs?

OKR – a strategic goal-setting framework consisting of an Objective, which tells you where to go, and several Key Results, which are the results you need to achieve to get to your objective. It is said that OKR helps companies bridge the gap between strategy and execution and move from an output- to an outcome-based approach to work. Generally, OKR creates and communicates your strategy in a transparent, measurable, and agile way for the whole organization.

O stands for Objective and is a simple but concrete description of something that you would like to achieve in the future. It sets the direction -like a destination on a map. Importantly, it should not be technical and should not contain a metric, so everyone understands where to go. Overall, O is a clear, motivational goal that answers the question WHAT.

KR stands for Key Result and is a measurable outcome required to achieve the O. It measures progress towards the O - like a signpost that shows how close you are to your O. KR always contain a metric with a start and target value, and in general, it answers the question HOW.

Talbit OKR, Objective, and Key Result
Figure 1. Talbit's definition of OKR, Objective, and Key Result

OKRs can be done at the company, business unit, team, and employee level. Each level connects its O to the previous level’s KR. Depending on your organizational setup, you may have 1 – n levels and follow the OKRs on a quarterly, 4-month, or bi-yearly cycle or whatever timeframe works best for you.

OKR Examples

Now that you have a basic idea of what an OKR is, let’s run through some OKR examples and see what is good or could be improved about each.

Example 1:

This example company is originated from Finnish and planning to expand to Sweden, and they now need to come up with a concrete and measurable plan to take the needed steps and achieve the expansion goal.

Strong presence in Swedish OKR example
Figure 2. "Strong presence in Swedish" OKR example

This is a good example of an OKR. The objective is aspirational and moves the company forward while the KRs are numeric and objectively quantify the success of the overall Objective.

Example 2:

Let’s imagine that your company wants to reach a lot of people. You decide to focus on going viral online to drive more attention to your company. Your OKR is shown as follows:

Make our company go viral OKR example (before)
Figure 3. "Make our company go viral" OKR example (before)

This example is bad because they are not focusing on outcomes but are just about getting something done. The Key Results do not contain any numbers. Remember, Objectives are large aspiration goals and Key Results are a quantifiable measurement of that goal. If we were to rewrite the OKR, it may look like this:

Make our company go vital OKR example (after)
Figure 4. "Make our company go vital" OKR example (after)

Example 3:

Let’s take example 1 a step further by taking company-level OKRs, marketing team-level OKRs, and marketing employee-level OKRs into consideration.

Company, Team, and Employee-level OKRs example
Figure 5. "Strong presence in Swedish market" - Company, Team, and Employee-level OKRs example

Get in touch or Schedule a meeting with the Talbit Team if you need any assistance in setting up your first OKRs.

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