What Is an OKR and How Do You Use One?

What is OKR planning? You may have heard this term thrown around before, but you may not be sure of what it actually means. Put simply, the OKR acronym stands for Objectives and Key Results. OKRs are a management framework used to set goals and identify measurable metrics to track your team’s progress toward achieving those goals. 

So, how can OKRs help you and your organization? Whether you’re a marketing team, sales team, or business operations team, OKRs can help you stay on top of your organization’s wider goals.

Keep reading to learn more about the OKR methodology, how an OKR process can help you and your team achieve more, and how Wrike’s OKR template can get you up and running with this powerful framework today. 

What is an OKR? 

Objectives and key results (OKR) is a framework that outlines specific goals (the objectives) a company or team is striving to accomplish, along with measurable milestones (the key results) that define the achievement of each objective. But, what exactly separates a goal or objective from a key result?

An objective is akin to a destination on a map. Your objective tells you precisely where you want to go in concrete, specific, and understandable terms. A well-defined objective states the goal clearly, sets the direction, and provides motivation for the team to achieve it. 

Key results, on the other hand, are metrics that are specifically designed to measure progress toward the objective. Key results should have a starting value and a target value so they can be measured and show in certain terms where you are at any given time in relation to the objective. 

Here’s an example OKR to demonstrate the differences between objectives and key results: 

Objective: Grow corporate business globally. 

Key results: 

  • Achieve global sales target of $50 million 
  • Hit 100% year-to-year sales growth in specified regions
  • Increase average company deal size by 25%
  • Reduce churn to less than 3% annually

Understanding OKR methodology

Since being developed by Andy Grove during his tenure as CEO of Intel, the OKR methodology has been utilized by many high-level organizations, including Google. Clearly, the OKR process works, but there are a few key things to keep in mind as you begin developing OKRs for your team or organization. 

First, OKRs are typically run in quarterly or annual cycles. For example, during your annual planning sessions, you can start crafting objectives you want to achieve during the coming year, then begin breaking those long-term goals down into quarterly goals that will help you stair-step your way to achieving the objective. 

Another key to crafting objectives is to make them realistic and achievable yet challenging. This is how companies like Google use OKRs to push the boundaries and set themselves apart as industry leaders. 

Finally, it can also be helpful to use cascading OKRs that flow from top-level management down to the rest of the organization. For instance, the C-suite creates overarching OKRs for the coming year or quarter; then, department leaders take charge of the key results that most apply to their teams, and convert those key results into objectives with corresponding key results to guide their respective teams. 

What’s the difference between OKR and SMART goals?

OKR and SMART goals share many similarities. However, the main difference between OKR and SMART goals is that OKRs do not look at those goals in isolation. Rather, OKRs are developed in harmony with the overall organizational mission and give more context for the stated objectives than SMART goals do, particularly when using a cascading OKR structure. 

A look at Wrike’s OKR template

When leveraging the OKR methodology, it helps to have the right tools for building out your OKRs and tracking their progress. Fortunately, Wrike’s work management platform and OKR template can help with both. 

With Wrike’s collaborative task editing features, you can hold OKR planning sessions that involve the whole team. This helps you capture ideas, objectives, and tasks as you brainstorm them, and allows you to add relevant details and assign them immediately. Once the OKRs are finalized, you can organize them within your department folder with appropriate tasks and sub-tasks. 

What Is an OKR and How Do You Use One? 2

With the OKRs in place and easily accessible by your whole team, it’s time to get to work and begin tracking progress. With Wrike, your team members can create a “My Objectives” dashboard widget that keeps goals and tasks at the forefront and allows them to share progress, make corrections, and ask for feedback with ease.  

What Is an OKR and How Do You Use One? 3

As manager, you can also track your entire team’s progress with a separate dashboard that provides an overview of all OKRs within your team or department. Using the table view, you can see the specifics of every OKR, including due dates, task status, task duration, and key stats. This helps you identify potential problems before they become unmanageable.  

How Wrike can help with the OKR process

Some managers may have trouble getting started with the OKR process. For instance, you may struggle with progress tracking, or have difficulty knowing how individual work impacts the company’s larger goals. Wrike helps address these issues with an intuitive OKR template. 

With Wrike, you can set up weekly, monthly, and quarterly check-ins to monitor progress and implement corrective measures before things go off the rails. What’s more, Wrike’s OKR template helps you develop cascading OKRs so that each departmental and individual goal can be aligned with and build toward the greater company’s objectives. 

For a more in-depth look at how Wrike can help you develop and execute OKRs in your organization, click here to get started with a free two-week trial!

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