Ian Hayward

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March 24, 2023

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are a goal-setting framework that has been adopted by companies like Google to drive growth and focus.

The idea behind OKRs is simple: set clear, measurable objectives and track progress through key results. But OKRs are more than just a set of goals – they are a way of thinking and working that can transform an organization. In this article, we’ll explore what OKRs are, the advantages they offer over other goal-setting processes, and some examples of how they have been used in practice.

What are OKRs?

OKRs were first developed by Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel, in the 1970s. The basic idea behind OKRs is to set clear, measurable objectives that are aligned with the organization’s overall goals and track progress through key results. OKRs are typically set on a quarterly or annual basis and involve all levels of the organization, from the CEO to individual team members.

Here’s an example of how OKRs might work in practice:

Objective: Increase customer satisfaction

Key results:

  • Increase Net Promoter Score (NPS) from 50 to 60
  • Reduce customer churn rate by 10%
  • Increase customer satisfaction survey scores by 5%

In this example, the objective is to increase customer satisfaction, and the key results are specific, measurable targets that will help the organization achieve this goal. By tracking progress towards these key results, the organization can see how well they are doing in terms of meeting their objective.

Advantages of OKRs

OKRs offer several advantages over other goal-setting processes:

  • Focus and alignment: OKRs help organizations stay focused on their most important goals by setting clear objectives and key results. This ensures that everyone in the organization is working towards the same priorities and that resources are being directed towards high-impact projects.

  • Transparency and accountability: OKRs are typically shared with the entire organization, which promotes transparency and accountability. By making progress visible to everyone, OKRs encourage team members to work towards their goals and celebrate their achievements.

  • Flexibility: OKRs are designed to be flexible and adaptable, which allows organizations to pivot and respond to changing circumstances. This can be especially important in fast-moving industries where the landscape is constantly shifting.

  • Motivation: OKRs can be a powerful motivator for employees because they provide a sense of purpose and direction. When team members understand how their work fits into the bigger picture, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated.

Examples of OKRs in action

OKRs have been used by a wide range of organizations, from startups to Fortune 500 companies. Here are a few examples of how OKRs have been used in practice:

  • Google: OKRs have been central to Google’s growth and success since the company’s early days. Google sets OKRs on a quarterly basis, with each team responsible for setting their own objectives and key results. This decentralized approach allows teams to focus on their own priorities while still being aligned with the overall goals of the organization.

  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn has used OKRs to drive innovation and growth since the company’s early days. In 2012, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner implemented a company-wide OKR program, which has helped the company stay focused on its most important goals and drive growth.

  • Asana: Asana, a project management software company, has used OKRs to drive growth and focus since the company’s founding in 2008. Asana sets OKRs on a quarterly basis and has found that the process helps the company stay focused and aligned while also allowing for flexibility and adaptability.

Challenges of OKRs

While OKRs offer many benefits, they are not without their challenges. Here are a few potential drawbacks to consider:

  • Time and effort: Implementing OKRs requires time and effort, particularly in the beginning as teams get used to the process. There is a learning curve involved in setting clear objectives and key results, and it can take time to get everyone on board.

  • Risk of over-optimization: By focusing on a few key objectives, organizations risk neglecting other important areas. It’s important to strike a balance and ensure that OKRs are not overly narrow or short-sighted.

  • Culture fit: OKRs work best in organizations with a culture of transparency, collaboration, and continuous improvement. If your company doesn’t have these values, it may be difficult to implement OKRs successfully.

  • Resistance to change: Like any new process, OKRs can be met with resistance, especially if employees are used to working in a different way. It’s important to communicate the benefits of OKRs and get buy-in from team members before implementing them.


OKRs are a powerful goal-setting framework that can help organizations stay focused and drive growth. While there are potential challenges to implementing OKRs, the benefits often outweigh the cons. If your company values transparency, collaboration, and continuous improvement, OKRs may be worth considering.

To make the most of OKRs, it’s important to set clear objectives and key results, track progress regularly, and be open to adapting and adjusting as needed. With the right approach, OKRs can help your organization stay focused, aligned, and motivated as you work towards your most important goals.

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