How to write great OKRs

The one thing that matters most

Objectives and Key Results are a proven method to help you facilitate focus, transparency, and transformation. You can also use OKRs to foster innovation and inspire creativity throughout your organization. Whatever your reason is to undertake this powerful goal-setting methodology, there are critical aspects of ОKRs implementation that determine whether you’ll be successful.

Nevertheless, what it takes to make OKRs work will differ based on organization size, culture, and OKR maturity. There is one thing that organizations of any type should master if they want to leverage the OKR superpowers – writing great OKRs. Why so? Because the quality of your OKRs can affect the achievement of your goals in the long run.  

The price of poorly written OKRs 

Poorly written OKRs can undermine the hard work you put in to reap the benefits of OKRs. Writing unclear, difficult to grasp, and not-in-line-with-best-practices OKRs can be a recipe for disaster. The consequences of writing poor OKRs vary depending on the scale of your business and how much you rely on OKRs to help you grow. 

If your OKRs fail to convey your highest priorities clearly, you risk spending precious time on the wrong activities. Imagine what will happen if the whole organization wastes its most valuable resources in such a way – catastrophe. Plus, it can be quite demotivating and costly to put your time and effort into something that doesn’t contribute to the bigger picture.

Great OKRs = Clarity and transparency  

Well-written OKRs give you a sense of direction, enable you to focus on what’s truly important, and help you get your priorities straight. What is more, they make it clear to everyone within the organization what a team or individual is working on at a given time – transparency check!

It will be so much easier for you to execute on your OKRs if they are set the right way. Well-written OKRs mean a well-outlined path to achieve them. You’ll feel confident about not only where you want to go, but also how to get there. And you’ll be able to track the right metrics which lead to more effective decision-making.

How to write great OKRs  

It’s not a secret to anybody who uses Objectives and Key Results that writing clear and coherent OKRs is no easy feat. Anyone who has ever stared at a blank page for a long time when trying to be creative knows that getting started with crafting OKRs can be frustrating. Remember that improving your OKR writing is a result of deliberate practice and the right guidance. Best practices suggest that great OKRs have specific attributes you need to consider.  

But first….  

Knowing the anatomy of an OKR is not enough to write great OKRs. You must also understand what your organization, departments and teams are striving for. Your organizational OKRs should by any means support your mission and vision. Your Team OKRs should support your department OKRs, individual OKRs should support your team OKRs, and so on. This will help your company align effectively through OKRs.

Write great Objectives  

Your Objective should be inspiring, easy to remember, and qualitative. The objective expresses your intent, ambition, and aspiration. Make sure it’s short, punchy, concise and everyone can understand it. We recommend that the Objective is no longer that 70 characters.

Write great Key Results 

To measure whether you are progressing towards your Objective, you need to set quantitative Key Results. Don’t forget that there is a difference between Key Results and KPIs . Most of your KRs should be tight to a specific metric that matters for achieving your Objective. Be careful not to create too many Key Results. Also, Yes/No KRs are generally not good practice – they are usually just tasks and often don’t measure outcome, just output. 

Don’t forget your To-Dos   

The things you do in order to advance your Key Results we call Tasks. They are an essential component of your OKRs. Think of all the things that you should complete in your day-today work to move the Key Result progress bar. So, don’t forget to tie your efforts back to your OKRs by including your Tasks.

How to know if your OKR is great?  

Learning best practices is pointless if you can’t measure how effective you are at applying them. But what if you could write an OKR and see what’s your OKR-design score based on the best practices? The OKR feedback saves you valuable time and helps you significantly improve your OKRs writing.  

You can use our Gtmhub OKR-design score tool to evaluate your OKR. It’s easy. You enter your Objective, Key Results, and To-Dos and voila. You’ll get an instant feedback on how your OKR scores.  

Here’s where you can test the quality of your OKRs. Try Gtmhub OKR-design score now!