OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)

Contributor(s): Dan Ring

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) is a performance management framework that encourages every employee to align their personal goals with the company's broad organizational goals. In addition to identifying goals, the employee must also identify three or four quantifiable action items (key results) for each goal. Essentially, the objective defines what the employee wants to achieve and the key results explain how the employee is going to go about achieving the goal within a specific time frame. The framework is meant to be transparent, and each employee's OKRs are made public within the organization.

An important purpose of implementing OKRs is to ensure that all employees are aware of organizational goals and everyone is working together to achieve them. When a workplace uses OKRs, employees are encouraged to set goals very high and must document progress towards the successful completion of Key Results with supporting data. Performance management software from vendors such as BetterWorks, Workboard and 7Geese can measure and track employees' progress toward their goals in real time. A key aspect of the software is that it allows all employees to see the goals of everyone else in the organization.

Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel, conceptualized the idea of OKRs to help his employees structure their work efforts and zero in on specific action items that would help improve business performance. Today, the concept of OKRs is used at many companies, including Google and LinkedIn. It is thought by some that OKRs are simply a more agile version of Peter Drucker's Management by Objectives (MBO) process, which requires objectives to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound). An important difference, however, is that objectives for OKRs are required to be very aggressive, and 100% completion of Key Results is not as important as making progress towards completion.

John Doerr explains how OKRs were used at Intel and how they are used at Google today.

This was last updated in April 2016

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