Names are the Jet Fuel for Your Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)
In Romeo and Juliet, the heroine says:
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Most of us aren’t in the floral business and wouldn’t take offense to this quote, however, this line could shake the foundation of your organization’s approach to naming objectives and key results.
Like much of Shakespeare’s rhetoric, this simple phrase packs a potent message.
A name, to most, is simply a name.
We carry this principle into how we name our processes.
What’s in an OKR’s Name and Why Should We Care?
A name is a descriptor, a summary of whatever process we’re speaking about. This is called a “blog,” not a “long-form expository composition related to the inner workings of our company and our specialties, formatted in a way that is beneficial to the reader.” Names can condense associations and deliver complex messages in a concise manner.
While we cannot argue with how most people and organizations view names, we at Gtmhub believe that names are anything but how we traditionally define them. Names mean something. Sorry, Juliet.
A Missed Opportunity in Your Leadership Lies in the Naming of OKRs
Names are powerful because we all have associations with names. Regardless of your background, your native language, or any other factors that influence your identity, names carry power across all borders.
Have you ever had a feeling about someone before meeting them simply because of their name? Perhaps a bad interaction with a guy named Steve has ruined all Steves, or your high school best friend’s name is Isa so you always perk up when meeting a new Isa? Memories are embedded in the names we give each other, both positive and negative.
Framing your objectives and key results through appropriately naming can share the power that we feel in our human names. For example, consider the dynamic mentality shift in re-naming these objectives:
Normal Objective: Improve sales effectiveness
Inspiring Objective: We are an unreasonably ambitious sales machine
KR 1: Increase sales velocity by 20%
KR 2: Logo churn below 2%
KR 3: Hit $2.5m in new bookings
Normal Objective: Improve Brand Awareness
Inspiring Objective: Be the go-to-brand for our category
KR 1: Achieve 70% Share of Voice (SOV) vs. main direct competitor
KR 2: 60% of respondents recall us in a brand-awareness survey
KR 3: Get 30,000 organic visitors from industry-related keywords
We pay attention to creating key results and metrics because that’s something that we’re conditioned to do in business. A missed opportunity is in the naming of these key results and measurables, an area too few leaders devote attention to.
Framing Begins with Naming.
Your teams know that doing a stellar job is imperative. Good teams understand that quality is about meeting clearly outlined OKRs. Great teams understand that a unified sentiment towards achieving those OKRs creates quality, memorable work. Consider the framing and intent behind the Top 5 best-named OKRs among Gtmhub and our clients:
1. When life gives you lemons, make insights
2. Put the success in Customer Success
3. We’re the Wikipedia of our category’s content
4. Winning is the new black
5. Get legit in the Product Market fit
How do you unify team sentiment towards OKRs?
Sentiment must be made obvious top-to-bottom, starting with how you frame the objectives. Framing begins with naming, a process we’re emphasizing because it’s too often glazed over and too infrequently considered as instrumental.
As a team member and an organization, it’s sensible to hone in on objectives and key results — this is what we help companies do at Gtmhub. You have a bottom line and it’s critical to have successful operations.
When people think of what motivates them to do work, getting paid is often the top “motivator.” Pay is a key result, but pay isn’t the only thing that motivates people. It’s what they can do with the pay. Providing for their families. The dance lessons for their daughters. The vacation they haven’t taken in three years.
The result or the target is compensation. The feeling is the freedom compensation gives you. As business professionals, we have to utilize the power of the feelings beyond the result. Those feelings can be incited by being more intentional with how we name our objectives.
The Traditional Method of Framing Doesn’t Go Far Enough
We frame what we want our goals to be from a results standpoint. We want to achieve X% conversion in this area of our business. We will increase ___ by ____ by this date. Results are good enough, but feelings convert the “good enough” into “exceptional.”
It’s not just the accomplishment as a material feat. It’s the feeling of accomplishment. This is where the power of language and naming affects framing.
Feelings pull on our heartstrings and invigorate the butterflies in our stomachs. People don’t latch onto KPIs. They latch onto the shared intrinsic feeling that hard-fought accomplishments bring. Results are the water after a long run. The feeling is the quenched thirst.
A question we should be asking ourselves is what do we want the results to result in us feeling? From there, we can reverse engineer that relationship and hack the naming of our OKRs.
What’s the Big Idea Behind Focusing on Naming Benchmarks?
We should make it a habit to bring our humanity into our work. Creating greater intentionality around naming is a bridge to this humanity. People have feelings inside work too, not just outside of it.
When we set personal goals, we typically don’t OKR ourselves to death. A New Year’s health resolution is more complex than decreasing body fat percentage by 7.5% in three months (results-based). The resolution is about having confidence when we step in front of our mirror and being proud of our reflection (feelings-based).
We believe that naming a resolution “Bring sexy back” hits closer to our feelings than “lose weight and tone.” Asking ourselves the question “Why?” can bring depth to our objectives, and as a result, a greater chance of valuable insight from that depth. Going one step further in a name puts extra power in the punch of great OKRs.
An objective is more than just the title you give it. It’s more than a name. Names are the mission statements behind our OKRs.
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