Purpose and Components
Many of the world’s major global companies have adopted OKR into the framework of their operations.
It’s a methodology that has proven to yield successful results for any company in any industry, serving thousands of companies of all kinds and sizes since the 1970s. But out of the oceans of information out there on the internet about how to write, implement and make the most of your OKR, no one has really answered the most basic question just yet. What is the actual purpose of the OKR method?
OKR, or Objectives and Key Results, is a methodology by which companies and individuals alike create a structured plan toward reaching a specific objective, and the methodology by which entities manage their progress toward their goals. There is some confusion as to whether the OKR method is primarily a structure or a management tool — we will address this in further details below.
The practice of implementing your OKR entails identifying an attainable goal and a timeframe to reach it and identifying Key Results or ways in which the individual or team will work toward that goal.
The most crucial aspect of the success of the OKR method is to create goals and key results that are concrete, measurable and attainable. The effectiveness of your OKR relies on its ability to hold up to regular status and progress check-ins — so the milestones, key results, and objectives that you create must necessarily be ones that can be measured.
So is OKR just a way to provide a framework for your goals, or is it a way to manage your progress toward your goals?
The short answer: it’s both.
The longer answer: in the same way that a square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square, so it is true that any goal
with a structure is an OKR, but not every OKR contains a plan for goal progress management.
Really any goal with one or more practical steps toward achieving it can be structured into an OKR. When you’re working with a team of individuals or a larger group, it becomes crucial to structure your objectives into something that facilitates clarity and a realistic timeframe, to engage the commitment of your staff and contributors. In this way, even though your objective may seem like it stands on its own without a structure, the OKR method serves an important purpose toward providing vital information to your teams through a clear and well-communicated structure.
But the OKR framework also serves as a powerful and effective tool for managing the progress of your teams toward the ultimate objective through the use of measurable key results. Especially for large-scale projects that involve the interaction and contribution of myriad teams, reaching your ultimate objective must necessarily involve a progress management method of some kind, and OKR has proven the most effective method to that end for decades.
You can use OKR for either or both purposes when planning your company’s next major or minor objectives. One of the benefits of OKR is that it is highly customizable to the needs of your company, your staff, your industry, and your teams. It’s designed to be flexible and transparent. How you choose to use OKR is entirely informed by your company’s unique needs.
As a management tool, OKR serves multiple purposes that may prove crucial to your organization’s success in reaching its objectives.
OKR can be used to manage the individual or teams who contribute to the efforts toward reaching your objectives. The use of a structured environment enables companies to delegate tasks according to the resources available — i.e., according to the teams who are participating in the progress toward that objective — and therefore enables companies to track individuals’ and teams’ progress toward their assigned key results. When used as a team management tool, OKR serves as a method by which to measure the performance of its team contributors in addition to tracking the progress of goals and milestones.
Alternatively, though not necessarily exclusively mutual, OKR can be used as a leadership tool more than a management tool. In this application of OKR, the organization becomes the focus of the management effort, and the teams and individuals who contribute to the success of the objective become something more like collaborative partners than moving pieces. This methodology places a far heavier emphasis on the work itself rather than on tracking the performance of the people completing the work.
Either of these methodologies entails its own pros and cons. And realistically, rather than employing just one or the other, you will probably end up using a mix of both. That’s the beauty of OKR: you get to use it how you determine best fits the objectives at hand.
OKR has been a valuable tool for large corporations around the globe to accomplish their major goals since the 1970s. Over the decades, the methodology has been fine-tuned and honed into a crucial resource for anyone to reach their objectives with the use of practical, measurable key results. Individuals and companies alike benefit from the use of the OKR method.
The nature of OKR makes it an intensely customizable implementation, able to be tailored and tweaked according to the needs of any individual or business in any industry. Its success has been repeated across countless ventures globally — and as the method itself has been honed into a powerful tool, we’ve identified the implementation methodologies that work the best toward making the best use of OKR.
After you’ve done the hard work of identifying your objects, laying out the framework of your key results and finally writing your OKR, the next step is to implement your OKR within your company. Here are some of the most crucial components to guaranteeing the successful implementation of your OKR.
Get the Support of Leadership
Get the Support of Everyone in the Organization
Clearly Define How You Intend to Implement the OKR Method