Ask these 3 questions to succeed with OKRs.

Posted by Bo Pedersen
on August 24, 2017

Bottom Line: To be successful with OKRs, ask three questions: 

  • What do we want to achieve?
  • How are we going to measure success?
  • What are we going to do to make progress?

What do we want to achieve?

OKRs operate on a quarterly cycle. With each new cycle, we get to ask ourselves; what do we want to achieve?

By definition, an achievement is not part of your business as usual to-do list. Logging on, answering emails, attending meetings, completing core tasks; these are all part of your business as usual. However, let’s use these as an example of how to convert your business as usual into an OKR.

Bad ‘business as usual’ OKR:

  • Objective: Complete all core tasks

If all we do during the OKR cycle is to complete core tasks, then all we’ve done is to maintain the status quo. If we improved during this time, it would not be because we tried.

Good ‘business as usual’ OKR”:

  • Objective: Improve Core Task Process

When we rephrase the Objective as an achievement, we see that the our goal is clear. Core task completion is by definition part of the objective, but it is not sufficient to achieve the objective. We must now think about how useful measurements.

How are we going to measure success?

Our objective is to Improve Core Task Process. How will we know if we’ve been successful? We can quickly come up with a few ways to measure the Core Task Process:

  • Time
    • Time spent
    • Response time
    • Turnaround time
  • Output
    • Number of tasks
  • Outcomes
    • Feedback Score
    • Customer Satisfaction
    • Completion Ratio
    • Incomplete Ratio

Armed with a clear understanding of how to measure success, we can now choose the most appropriate Key Results for our Objective:

  • Objective: Improve Core Task Process
    • Key Result 1: Maintain 90%+ Completion Ratio
    • Key Result 2: Reduce Time Spent on Core Tasks to 4 Hours / Day
    • Key Result 3: Achieve 90%+ Positive Feedback Score

What are we going to do to make progress?

Now that we know what we’re going to achieve, and how to measure success, we need to take action.

If you’re not a task oriented organization or person, you can think of this as a list of ideas, themes, or initiatives which you can directly action to make progress against your OKR.

  • Objective: Improve Core Task Process
    • Key Result 1: Maintain 90%+ Completion Ratio
    • Key Result 2: Reduce Time Spent on Core Tasks to 4 Hours / Day
    • Key Result 3: Achieve 90%+ Positive Feedback Score
  • Initiatives
    • Initiative 1: Attend Time Management Course
    • Initiative 2: Document Current Core Task Process Steps
    • Initiative 3: Speak to IT about automation of Process Step X
    • Initiative n…