Writing Effective OKR's

Writing your Objectives

Objectives are your qualitative goals and are usually very broad. Most importantly here, objectives must drive the business forward and should therefore align with company goals, strategy, and vision. They should also be challenging and inspiring, created to push your team out of their comfort zones, whilst also remaining realistic. This can be a hard balance to strike.

Some basic tips for effective objective creation are:

·        Look at your mission and vision to see how you can drive the organisation forward

·        Be realistic with what you can get done and within what time frame

·        Use your KPI’s to see were current problems are and where you can make improvements

·        Review previous objectives to see if any of these remain incomplete

·        Challenge your team to achieve an objective that would normally be out of reach to drive performance

·        Include a time limit in order to assess the success of an OKR

·        Write for your people and make everything easy to understand and completely transparent

 To recap, an objective should be directional, aligned, impactful, time-bound, within your circle of influence, and limited (there shouldn’t be too many)! Additionally, leaders should design OKRs which are inspirational and understandable so that they drive performance and increase the chance of success. To check your objective is correct you should be able to affirm the following questions:

·        Is the objective broad?

·        Is the objective inspiring?

·        Does the objective help in achieving the company goals?

·        Does the objective align with corporate strategy?

·        Is the objective indispensable?

·        Is the objective time boxed?

Writing your Key Results

An objective tells you where to go. Key results tell you how to get there. Key results describe outcomes and results, not activities, and are measurable indicators of success. Therefore, they must be quantifiable in order to demonstrate how much of an objective has been achieved. If they cannot be objectively measured, they are not KRs. Numbers form an integral part of the key result. To write effective key results, you should ensure that they:

·        Explain how to achieve the overall objective

·        Are ambitious, but also realistic (they should motivate, not discourage you)

·        Are measurable in that they are either Boolean or a number

·        Adhere to SMART goal setting (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, timebound)

Reflektive shared the following example of an Objective and Key Results breakdown:

Upraise uses the following


Initiatives are often confused with OKRs, but it’s important to understand the difference. Your Objective tells you where to go, the Key Results are the metrics that have to move for you to achieve your Objective, Initiatives are the actual work you’re planning to do. Initiatives must always be specific and should always be within control, meaning that the scope is clearly defined, and you have the power to complete them.

Initiatives can be trial and error, and in the case that your chosen initiatives are not working, you should change them. You should be constantly willing to try new things, measure the effect, and, where successful, multiply your efforts. So, using the examples above. The initiatives for the KPI “Increase social media followers by 20%” might be to schedule weekly blogs about the product and to share client testimonials about the product. And the Key Result “Decrease attrition rate from 7% to 3%” might be the introduction of quarterly reviews to identify issues within the company.


OKRs can be a great tool for strategy development and business growth, but only when designed and used correctly. They should align with company goals and corporate vision and should ensure all teams are working towards a common goal. The OKRs should be easily understood and should point the organisation in a clear direction. Regular reviews of objectives and key results are critical to ensuring that they remain relevant to the overall business vision.

Does your team or company use the OKR framework and what has your experience been with it? I’m really keen to learn more about this, and how they work within a real business context. Drop me a message or a comment if you have used OKRs or if you have a reason why you specifically don’t use them.

Additionally, if you’re interested in other Product related content, events, and resources, please let me know!