Using OKRs and OKR Examples

As an organization or team implementing objectives and key results (OKRs), oftentimes leaders aren't sure where to start. They want to create ambitious OKRs and stretch goals, but they also want their teams to be successful.

According to re:Work with Google, if teams are using stretch goals, you shouldn't expect them to achieve everything. You should expect them to deliver on about 70% of their OKRs.

So, as a leader, executive or manager, how do you go about setting OKRs that are ambitious but achievable?

It helps to look at examples to model from.

First, consider the definition of OKRs and the two components you should focus on: 1) The objective and 2) The key results.

The objective is your goal. It can be qualitative and doesn't have to be quantifiable. Your key results are your milestones or metrics within each goal. Key results need to be measurable and are used to assess whether an objective is on track or achieved. Consider your key results the quantitative targets that you need to measure and execute—they're your outcomes.

As re:Work with Google reports, "There are some objectives that will stay the same quarter after quarter, like 'Ensure customer satisfaction is over XX%,' and this is ok if that objective is always a high priority." But, if you use the same OKRs quarter after quarter, you should evolve your key results so your teams are motivated to continue to innovate and find efficiencies.

And, you want to focus on organizational objectives. You're implementing OKRs to help align your teams, improve transparency, and create a culture of innovation. OKRs should be organization-wide and high-level. Individuals and teams will use their own methods to achieve these goals, versus following prescriptive tasks lists. But sometimes, individuals want to set their own personal OKRs as well.

Using an OKR tool that can sort by Company, Group, and Personal keeps your goals organized by CEO or high-level views; department or mid-level; or individual goal setting. Individual and mid-level goals are owned at a lower level of the organization, but support and align with the overarching goals of the company. OKR tool features that sort OKRs by these three tiers provides full access to OKRs, allowing for transparency in every level of the organization.

OKR Examples

It is recommended that OKRs should be limited to a maximum of 3 or 4 objectives per department, team, or individual, and with up to 5 key results per objective. If you have too many OKRs, individuals can begin to lose focus and veer off track.

We know that OKRs are ambitious goal statements supported by measurable key results. Now, let's get into some examples to help you create effective OKRs.

Example 1. Consider this example from Google's Sustainability Report.

Objective: Be the neighbor everyone wants in the communities in which we operate.

Key Result 1: 100% of shipments of all Made by Google hardware to and from Google's direct customers are carbon neutral.

Key Result 2: Invest roughly $150M into renewable energy projects in key manufacturing regions.

In this case, Google's objective is an achievement—something they're striving to be—but it wouldn't be measurable without the key results that support it. Make 100% of shipments carbon neutral and invest $150M into renewable energy projects are quantitative goals that have a measurable result.

Notice that the key results don't dictate the specific tasks that will need to be done in order to get there. This type of stretch goal setting leaves plenty of room for teams to get innovative in how they solve these problems and achieve their goal metrics. And this is a large benefit of implementing the OKR system in the first place.

Example 2.
A firm wants to increase revenue by increasing billable work over the next quarter. \

Objective: Increase billable hours for each employee by quarter 2.

Key Result 1: Roll out weekly dashboard to track all hours.

Key Result 2: Increase individual billable hours to 70% of total hours worked.

Key Result 3: Identify at least 5 non-billable projects to reduce or eliminate.

Again, the objective is qualitative, stating a general improvement, while the key results are metrics. Using an OKR tool that can sort by numerical, %, or binary key results would be useful here to track progress toward the goal percentage of billable hours per employee and projects reduced or eliminated.

Example 3. A company wants to position themselves higher than their competition through excellent customer satisfaction, service, and customer care.

Objective: Attain the highest customer satisfaction score in company history.

Key Result 1: Plan and deploy customer appreciation program.

Key Result 2: Deploy customer surveys to 100% of customers.

Key Result 3: Deploy a second wave of engagement to customers who did not score 10/10.

Key Result 4: Raise customer satisfaction score to 8.5 or higher.

Make Use of OKR Tools

Now that we've looked at examples of OKRs, you may have some ideas of how to create stretch goal objectives and outline the key results for your team. But how will you communicate and track the OKRs you set?

When deciding how you'll set up and use an OKR tool for your organization, look for a solution that can give you the sorting capabilities that your various teams need. By choosing a tool that provides flexible dashboard views and sorting capabilities, you can be sure that the tool can be useful for everyone in your organization.

Get the most out of your OKRs by grading them. Using a flexible OKR tool can show results by number, percentage and binary, which lets your team view, present and interpret goals and results by the preferred criteria, whether that's the percentage of a goal completed or "yes or no" completion.

Consider using an OKR tool that can sort by both annual and quarterly cycles. This gives executives a high-level view of annual progress and data, while giving your teams deeper insight into quarterly progress and the areas where they'll be focusing their results.

Regardless of the size of your organization, you can make use of OKR tools to implement, track and assess your progress with OKRs. Whether you're a start-up with a few key players or a workforce of over 500 employees, using an OKR tool automates OKR tracking and ensures that all team members are heading in the right direction.

Viktor Grekov
Oboard Ltd.

Get rid of frictions of managing OKR and get the framework adopted easily.