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Why Objectives, Key Results Can Help You Accomplish More

Peter Doherty • Jul 16, 2020 • 3-min read
Tags: insights planning objectives key-results OKRs management framework

The global shutdown resulting from the outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted business objectives within organizations small and large. Finding new strategies to maintain business functions and growth in an environment that is slowly returning from lockdowns imposed earlier this year is a top priority for business managers and executives.

Objectives, Key Results (OKR’s) is a practical management framework to help navigate this uncertain business environment. This tool defines clear, measurable strategic goals and communicates a roadmap to accomplish more.

Communicate Business Objectives Easily

With so many organizations shifting to a remote and distributed workforce in the immediate future, business objectives are at risk of being misunderstood or miscommunicated.

In some studies, nonverbal communication has been shown to carry between 65% and 93% more impact than the actual words spoken, especially when the message involves emotional meaning and attitudes. Source: Darlene Price, author of Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results.

The practicality of OKR’s as a management tool/framework is an ideal way to address this gap.

The use of OKR’s describes the outcomes desired and why a particular goal matters, therefore giving more transparency and direction to the team.

With several OKR’s, a macro perspective of a larger strategy that the business manager is seeking to execute is possible. The benefit of this approach leads to a synchronized and motivated team. Lastly, it shifts the tactics of achieving results from an output approach to an outcome mindset.

Get Started

OKR’s can be set quarterly, with daily, weekly or, bi-weekly updates of the progress to be recorded by a “goalkeeper” — typically a member of the team. It depends on the approach that the team feels most comfortable using.

The steps below describe how the tool works, however, where necessary additional criteria can apply:

  1. Define an objective - this is the “end product” that you wish to achieve as a result of the efforts of the team/organization
  2. List at most, five key results/outcomes - these are metrics that have a starting number and target number and portrays progress toward the goal.
  3. Design an initiative - this is a short description of action undertaken to achieve the outcomes listed in point 2 above. The use of metrics is optional but recommended.
Example OKR

An example OKR with one key result is below. In this hypothetical scenario, a manager’s objective could be to streamline the internal due diligence process within his/her department. A key result desired is to reduce 25 documents from the process — possibly to save time or to improve quality control. An initiative could be to hire an external consultant.

Benefits and Use Cases

The benefits of adopting OKR’s are:

  • Aligns team members
  • Communicates strategy
  • Fosters collaboration
  • Emphasis on outcomes rather than output
  • Transparent
  • Actionable and measurable
  • Motivates employees

OKR’s work effectively in the following business departments:

  • Sales and Marketing
  • Operations
  • Quality Control
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
Conclusions

During this period of transition caused by the impacts of COVID-19, it’s important to stay agile, focused, and aligned. The OKR framework acts as a powerful tool to define specific, measurable objectives. It encourages remote collaboration among teams during COVID-19. Its flexibility means that it can coexist with agile project management methodologies and is a powerful tool to fast-track progress towards achieving business goals and desired outcomes.

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