Objectives and Key Results

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a critical thinking framework and goal-setting methodology that helps companies to align goals and ensure everyone is working collaboratively on goals that really matter. OKRs can be implemented using spreadsheets, or more commonly, with OKR software.

A beginner’s guide to OKRs

This page is a great overview of OKRs. Use the Table of Contents below to jump to various sections. Or, you can start by viewing these main sections:

To see all of our materials on OKRs, please visit our resource page or download our free ebook, Step by Step Guide to OKRs.

Table of Contents

What are OKRs?

The OKR methodology is a simple process of setting and aligning company and team goals (Objectives) and connecting each Objective with 3-5 measurable results (Key Results) to measure progress. For example, increase _____ from X to Y. Reduce ______ by X%. Improve ______ up to X%. Key Results can be measured on a 0-100% scale or any numerical unit (ex: dollar amount, %, items, etc.).

As progress is made on each Key Result, progress on the Objective moves forward on a 0-100% scale. Objectives are also supported by your weekly activities and initiatives (Plans) that you’ll take to drive forward the progress of an Objective. Plans should be created on a weekly basis and be linked to your Objectives.

linking Objectives, Key Results and Plans
ObjectivesKey ResultsPlans
Time Bound
Weekly Priorities

Example OKRs

Now that we have a better grasp on what makes for a good OKR. Let’s run through some examples and see what is good or could be improved about each.

Example 1:

For our first example we have:

Objective: Make our company go viral

Key Results:

  1. Generate 100,000 views on our youtube channel
  2. Get 10,000 new followers on instagram
  3. Increase organic search traffic to our website by 20%

This is a good example of an OKR. The Objective is aspirational and moves the company forward while the KRs are numeric and objectively quantify the success of the overall Objective. Bad Key Results for this Objective would includes:

Bad Key Results: 

  1. Make videos for youtube,
  2. Get more Instagram followers
  3. Improve SEO

Example 2:

Objective: Design, create, and launch new product

Key Results:

  1. Interview 50 existing customers on what they would like to see for a new product line
  2. Create new product

In this case the OKR could use some work. The Objective is likely not possible to achieve in a single quarter. And while the first KR is good, the second result is not quantifiable.

Example 3:

Objective: Implement new outbound email campaign

Key Results: 

  1. Write email copy to send to outbound leads
  2. Get a list of outbound leads
  3. Send email to everyone on list 

This unfortunately would not be considered an OKR but rather a project with a task list. Remember Objectives are large aspiration goals and KR’s are a quantifiable measurement of that goal.  

Read more OKR examples and how teams developed these OKRs.

Or, if you are just looking for a list of OKR examples without explanations, check out OKRexamples.co.

What is Goal Setting?

OKRs serve as a goal setting methodology. But before jumping into them in more depth, you should really understand what the term “goal” actually means. You’ve probably heard of different terms like goals, targets, OKRs, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)/metrics. In many cases, these terms get mixed-up. Each of them needs to be defined so there’s no real confusion. 

goals, metrics, and targets

What are goals?

Goals in a business are something that a company plans to achieve in the future. A goal is the result you want to obtain. At their core, goals are all about commitment. They give a business direction and help you focus on what’s important. Goals can be overarching (directional) and focus on the largest aims of the company (aka Company goals), or operational and focus on function-specific Team level priorities. Depending on the level though, goals can fill specific niches based on development needs as well. 

Goals should be known by everybody in the company and planned initiatives should help your team move towards those Goals. 

Goals vs Objectives

The line between goals and Objectives is so thin that it basically doesn’t exist. They both represent a desired result or achievement. There are different theories saying that goals are usually more long-term and cover the big picture and Objectives are more specific, actionable and set short-term.

Separating goals from Objectives may be relevant to some goal setting methods but it’s definitely not needed while using OKRs. We say it’s the same! Trying to separate those two terms doesn’t actually give you any value, so why bother.

What Goals Aren’t 

i.e. what are KPIs/metrics and targets?

KPIs and Metrics and targets are important terms for understanding how your company is doing. KPI and Metrics are business measurements and mean the same thing. These measurements represent how the company is performing. Tracking company KPIs helps you understand if the company is in a healthy state or not. It’s important to determine what are the things you need to measure in your company. It could be churn rate, MQL, NPS, etc. depending on what your company is doing. 

Targets are performance levels which you set for your KPIs/metrics. For example, sales people can set a target for how many customer meetings they need per month. While the metric is the number they actually achieved. 

The difference between goals and KPIs/metrics and targets is that a goal is something you want to achieve, while KPIs/metrics represent where you are and what numbers you are hitting on a daily basis to keep the company running. If company KPIs are performing well you don’t need to take any extra actions on them. Goals are something that are in the spotlight and they are all about taking different actions to achieve them. KPIs/metrics and targets represent the current situation, while goals point you in the direction where you want to go. 

Goals can also be set for the strategic direction of the company. That means, goals tend to come from KPIs/metrics which aren’t meeting their targets or from strategic decisions (i.e. expanding to a new country/region, or deciding what a company will focus on to differentiate).  

Learn more about the difference between OKRs and KPIs.

Your goals are set, what’s next?

Goals are driven forward by plans. If goals answer the question “where”, then initiatives are the “how” part. We like to use the term initiatives, but you may use different terms like – plans, tasks, (key) actions, projects, etc. Goals definitely aren’t just a list of initiatives because completing one doesn’t mean that the outcome is what was expected. 

Initiatives are important because if you don’t focus on your goals and don’t have a plan for how to achieve them, then there is a big chance you are going to fail. Whenever your goals aren’t moving forward you need to change what you are doing or try new initiatives. It’s crucial to have a readiness and open mindset to change methods or try new things in your Company when you are trying to take it to new heights. 

What OKRs are not…

Now that you have an understanding of what metrics, KPIs and goals are, let’s look at what OKRs are not.

OKRs are not KPIs

You should use both OKRs and KPIs

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are often used to set revenue targets, growth or performance expectations (number of deals closed, traffic to the website, daily active users, number of new paying customers, customer LTV, etc.). So let’s say you want to earn $100,000 in three months which is a 30% increase from the previous quarter. This is your KPI target.

But just dreaming about numbers won’t work, so what do you need to improve, fix or innovate in your business to reach that number and what would you regularly measure to know whether you are improving? This would be the focus of your Objective and Key Results.

With OKRs you define an area for improvement or a problem to be solved and set Key Results that will be measuring your progress towards the Objective. It’s important to write measurable outcome-based Key Results that you could update regularly, preferably on a weekly basis. 

Do not worry, you’re not the first person who is confused about the difference between OKR and KPI.

OKR is not a new framework to organize everything that you do

In an attempt to align everyone in the same direction and focus everyone’s attention on something that matters most, it might be tempting to organize everything teams do in a hierarchical view of job responsibilities. This hierarchical view usually is a waterfall structure of cascaded outputs (aka tasks, activities) and KPI targets. And these are not OKRs.

Since OKRs are supposed to bring alignment and higher productivity to the teams, companies choose to call their cascaded tasks (outputs) OKRs and not bother changing the way they work. 

Be mindful that if you don’t change the way you think about Objectives, your teams would continue doing what they were doing before you started calling it OKRs. And the only difference would be that now they have a hierarchical representation of their tasks and KPI targets. This approach wouldn’t change a thing in your current business situation.

So what’s the difference between business-as-usual and OKRs? 

OKRs aren't for business as usual

Each team (or department) in your company has a role and responsibilities to uphold so that you wouldn’t go out of business. Those are work plans and weekly/monthly/quarterly/annual targets that fall under their job description, aka business-as-usual (BAU) operations which is everything a team does to maintain their efficiencies and meet their KPI targets. 

For a Sales team, BAU is making calls, sending emails and meeting customers, etc.; for Marketing, it’s about communicating your product value to attract potential buyers; for Manufacturing, it’s maintaining efficiencies at every stage of the production cycle. As long as it is about keeping things as they are and maintaining what you currently have, it’s business-as-usual. If you are looking to change, grow, and improve what you currently have, that is a job for OKRs.  

If things are good, maintaining efficiency is very important, and if you have no intention of growing your revenue or improving your internal processes, business-as-usual goals and plans might be enough. However, if things are bad or if you recognize the need for improvement, you need to think about what needs fixing, what could be changed, or what kind of new opportunities you can pursue. This is where you turn to OKRs. 

Within the OKR methodology, a Company Objective is a focus area for a quarter – either a problem to fix or a completely new challenge to undertake. Its purpose is to provide direction and explain your aspirations. Each team in the organization would have their own Objectives (usually 1, and maximum 3 per Team) aligned to an overarching company goal. Writing Objectives for OKRs, therefore, requires analysis and understanding of the current situation of your business: what’s causing you trouble, what can be improved or changed, or what do you need to start doing?

OKR is not a tool for performance management 

OKR is a forward-looking goal-setting method that fuels teamwork and accountability. But if you want to see greater collaboration and have your teams truly invested in their work, you should never use OKRs for personal performance management. OKRs are designed for exploring the unknown and chasing the possibilities that might expose you to a better future. OKRs are not for organizing business-as-usual job responsibilities and expecting things to magically change.

OKR is not a performance review

Performance reviews are stressful for both managers and employees, so these ceremonies are often skipped or done superficially. And since they are usually organized 1:1, people tend to focus on task completion and there is no consideration for the bigger picture. This is simply not enough if you would like to improve and grow your business. 

Some companies have ditched personal performance reviews completely because they have learned how to get the teams to focus on the outcomes that the organization needs to achieve. When those outcomes are specific enough, clear enough, and motivating enough, teams make better decisions when it comes to prioritizing Objectives and managing their time.  

OKR was not designed for performance management, and you shouldn’t think that you can somehow adjust the methodology to serve this purpose. Instead, you should learn how to leverage your teams’ collective intelligence and help them focus on the outcomes that the organization needs to achieve.

OKR is not a template 

We’re answering hundreds of customers’ questions every week. And it seems like a lot of people think that OKR is a database of ready-made answers, and if you specify your industry or functional area you can simply choose suitable OKRs from a list. 

It almost suggests a conspiracy theory: as if some companies have access to this database and some don’t. Rest assured, there’s no such database. There is, however, the power of human knowledge and intelligence, and, thankfully, you can learn how to write good OKRs.

OKR is a learning path

There are many examples of OKRs on the internet that you could use as a reference and source of inspiration. There’s nothing wrong with that. But the issue is that a lot of those examples are out of context, too broad and it would be silly to assume they would immediately work in your business. 

No one knows your business better than you do so no one can really tell you what to focus on. 

The good news is that if you want to improve your business and you are willing to change the way you think about the goal-setting process, you will most certainly succeed. Where there is a will, there is a way. 

You can’t take a leap to 10x better results in a single day. You need to go through cycles of learning, analyzing, and getting better at it. It’s just like gaining muscular structure: you need to do a little work every day before you can do the heavy lifting and compete in the Olympics. 

To tap into the collective intelligence of your teams, you need to have meaningful discussions while setting and reviewing your quarterly OKRs.

Benefits of OKRs

OKRs allow you to set and communicate the most important goals in your organization in an organized, focused, and transparent manner. OKRs are especially good if your team is growing, your old methods just aren’t cutting it anymore, or you’re having an issue with reaching goals and with productivity. No matter your starting point, the main benefit of using OKRs is a unified company where everyone knows exactly what they need to get done and they feel motivated to do it.

Benefits of OKRs for companies, departments and teams

There are many other benefits of OKRs. So many in fact, we have written a whole article on the benefits of the OKR methodology and why you should implement OKRs in your organization.

While using OKRs on a spreadsheet or documents provides some of these benefits, using special OKR software can provide even more benefits. It automates the process and provides additional features, which provides increased visibility and engagement that spreadsheets often lack.

OKR software and unlimited coaching for SMBs.

Weekdone is the best way for SMBs to implement OKRs. The visual OKR dashboards quickly show you how your company is doing. Our OKR coaches will make sure your OKR transition is a success.

History of OKRs

For a brief history, let’s travel back to the 1970’s. Disco is in, bell bottoms are the latest fad, and Andrew Grove, president of Intel, first developed and implemented OKRs in his company, and documented the main principles in the book, “High Output Management.” Andy Grove reshaped management into something simpler and easier by asking two essential questions.

  1. Where do I want to go?
  2. How will I pace myself to get there?

Now it is 1974 and John Doerr joins Intel and is introduced to OKRs. Later, Doerr served as an adviser during Google’s earliest moments and in 1999, introduced OKRs to Google’s founders. Now, Doerr is well known for championing the goal setting solution and Google still uses OKRs to this very day.

And it has stayed with many others as well including Google, Twitter, Spotify, LinkedIn, Amazon, and many others. You can check out an expansive list of companies using OKRs here.

companies using OKRs

The biggest change in the last few years has been the explosive growth of OKR users and the technology to implement them. Thought leaders like Weekdone have now done OKR software for more than 7 years, so it has become an established sector.

Getting Started with OKR

The basic OKR structure is rather simple and streamlined. You can define OKRs in a spreadsheet or special OKR software. Follow these 5 steps as you get started.

1. Set your Objectives

As you begin setting your first OKRs start by defining one Objective for your company. (As you get more comfortable using OKRs, you can add more company Objectives, but you will never want more than 5.)

Communicate and explain this Objective to your functional teams (for example, Product Development, Marketing, Sales, etc) and ask the teams to set their contributing Objectives to be aligned with the company’s Objective. Each team should think about how they can help move forward the company goals.

Remember, Objectives should be ambitious, qualitative, time bound, and actionable.

2. Define your Key Results

Under each team Objective set 3-4 measurable Key Results. The job of Key Results is to measure how close you’re getting to achieving your Team Objective. The company Objectives don’t need Key Results because those goals will be moved forward by team OKRs.

Measurable Key Results can be set in a different ways:

  • Increase ______ from X to Y
  • Reduce ______ by X%
  • Improve ______ up to X%

By moving the needle on Key Results, you’re driving the Objective forward. Key Results can be based on growth, performance, revenue, or engagement.

3. Update your OKRs

While you should set team OKRs quarterly, it is important to go over your OKRs every week. This way you can make sure you stay on track with your goals and provide and give feedback to team members as necessary.

4. Plan your activities

It is also important to incorporate OKRs into your weekly activities. Each week think about what projects and plans you should focus on to achieve those Objectives and write them out. This way you can see how all your efforts help you achieve your goals.

5. Review your OKRs

At the end of the quarter each Team should then look back at the accomplishment of their OKRs. See what you did well and what you can improve on. From there you can start planning your team’s next OKRs.

Company wide, you should have an OKR review 2-3 times a quarter to share thoughts and learnings.

Writing Good Objectives

How do you write a good Objective for your OKRs?

Before writing an OKR you need a good understanding of what you want to accomplish. First focus on your Objective. Think of the potential Objectives you’d like to accomplish this quarter, and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does the Objective help achieve company goals?
  2. Is the Objective inspiring?
  3. Does this Objective provide business value?
  4. Is this Objective really achievable in one quarter?
  5. Is this Objective solving the problems our team is having?
  6. Is this Objective actionable and achievable by just us?

It is also important to consider what Objectives are not:

Objectives should not be easy.

If you are starting out with OKRs, achieving 100% of your Objective in 3 months is pretty common. It will help to support team morale and motivate people to set more ambitious goals next quarter.

If an Objective is achieved well before the end of the quarter you weren’t thinking big enough. And if you don’t reach anywhere near that you may have set an annual goal instead.

When you become more comfortable with OKRs, you will want to make them more ambitious. When you hit 65-70% of an ambitious goal, it is still quite an accomplishment! This is why you should expect to only achieve 2/3rds of your Objective in a quarter.

That being said, you want to make sure that 2/3rds doesn’t become the new 100% for your team! Everyone should always aim to achieve 100% of their Objective by coming up with new ways to produce better results.

Objectives are not projects with sub tasks.

Objectives are aspirational goals. They are not one-off activities, which would be considered as tasks or plans.

So if we wanted to write an Objective for a company to increase their revenue a good objective would be to:

Increase product reach in Germany in Q3

This Objective works, since it’s aspirational, time bound, and helps move the company forward.

An example of a bad Objective would be:

Write a product marketing plan for Germany

This is a bad Objective as it is not time bound, inspiring, and not forward looking.

With Objectives, it’s all about being qualitative. They should describe the desired outcome. For example: Understand customer needs is a good Objective because it’s clear and aspirational. You don’t need Objectives to be measurable, unlike with key results.

Keep in mind that Objectives should also be time-bound, either quarterly or annually. If you are setting annual goals, you should further break them down into quarterly Objectives.

There’s no point in setting goals at all if they’ll just carry over quarter to quarter without any improvement. They would be then KPIs, which are useful for monitoring status quo. Learn more about the difference between OKRs and KPIs here or watch this video below.

You can see more examples of Objectives for your given field at okrexamples.co. To play around with defining OKRs, sign up for free at Weekdone.

OKR software and unlimited coaching for SMBs.

Weekdone is the best way for SMBs to implement OKRs. The visual OKR dashboards quickly show you how your company is doing. Our OKR coaches will make sure your OKR transition is a success.

Setting Key Results

Key Results measure how close you’re getting to achieving your quarterly Objectives. After analyzing your major priorities and deciding to focus on a particular Objective, you then need to decide on your Key Results. Remember Key Results are the way you measure your Objective.

Key Results should be specific, measurable (quantifiable), achievable, actionable, objectively graded, and be difficult but not impossible.

key results are...

It’s also important to think about what Key Results are not as well:

They are not binary.

Key Results should be numeric and be updated throughout the quarter. If your Key Result is binary it may be a task or plan and not a Key Result. Which moves us to the next point.

They are not tasks to be completed. 

While plans and projects are important in supporting your objectives, Key Results are measurable business outcomes and should be treated as such.

Some good examples of Key Results for the Objective: Increase product reach in Germany, would include:

  1. Increase German Sign-up to MQL conversion rate from 15 to 20%
  2. Increase German MQLs from 300 to 500
  3. Increase German SQLs from  200 to 300

These examples are measurable (quantifiable), objectively graded, and while challenging they should be achievable.

A bad example of a Key Result would be:

  1. Launch new line of business

This Key Result is not numerically measurable and it is not objectively clear how it contributes to the Objective. This would be considered as a project, or could be rewritten into a separate Objective.

Remember that Objectives are large aspirational goals and KR’s are a quantifiable measurement of that goal. You can see more examples of Key Results for your given field at okrexamples.co.

OKR review process

The OKR review process is needed so learning can take place and people can gain new knowledge to improve. Without ongoing team reviews, it is hard to know if you are on track or offtrack and what is behind the progress. As S. Kierkegraad said: “Life can be only understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” That means, to be able to make good decisions about the team and company’s future direction and focus we need to review what we have done and achieved before. 

OKR reviews take place in different cadence and at different levels:

  • Weekly check in on the team level. Weekly OKR check-ins are to talk about the progress and what was done, will be done next and if any problems have occurred. 
  • Monthly on the team and / or company level. It is good to have monthly reviews to share where the teams are with their progress and make sure that everyone is moving towards the high level goals. 
  • End of the quarter review. This is the most important and all-inclusive review meeting of the quarterly OKR process. It takes place first on a team level and then all together with the whole company. If monthly reviews have been completed then this can be a summary of those reviews.
OKR review process

OKRs and weekly planning and check-ins

Weekly planning is a method of tracking the weekly activities of your company. It is an important, but often understated part of the OKR planning process. Alongside Objectives and Key Results you also need to keep your weekly plans or initiatives in mind, and think about how what you do each week contributes to your larger goals.

By running weekly planning and weekly check ins alongside OKRs, you can instantly understand what high-level plans are achieved each week and see how they relate to your company’s long term goals. It serves as a replacement for weekly stand-up meetings with quick and simple check-ins. This lets you know what plans were assigned at the beginning of the week, and what was accomplished at the week’s end.

Weekly planning lets your team focus on the most important plans while keeping your long term goals in mind. The success of Objectives increases when weekly planning is actively used since people will review and update their OKRs more frequently.

The article OKR Weekly Check In will give you more detailed information on how to conduct a weekly check in.

It is important to use OKR software that incorporates weekly check-ins into its flow in order to see the most long-term success with OKR. Weekdone is one such system that was designed with both aspects in mind, making OKRs more accessible to both managers and employees.

Aligning and Linking OKRs

Aligning OKRs is absolutely necessary in the OKR process. However, aligning your OKRs is one of the most difficult concepts to understand.

The purpose of OKR alignment is to unify your company so teams move in the same direction. Everyone should know what goes on and how it relates to the company’s largest goals. Goal alignment is the theory of doing this, not the practical implementation of it. 

Objectives and Key Results Alignment

OKR alignment requires you to be really familiar with the structure of your company and goal-setting levels.

As a rule, Objectives can be set at two primary levels: company level (for overarching directional goals) and team level (for actionable Objectives and Key Results). Larger companies may benefit from having the additional level of departments, or groups of teams. However, the department level isn’t necessary for small to medium sized companies.

The article Goal Alignment: Using OKRs to Get Teams on the Same Page will give you more details about how to properly align OKRs in your company.

OKR software and unlimited coaching for SMBs.

Weekdone is the best way for SMBs to implement OKRs. The visual OKR dashboards quickly show you how your company is doing. Our OKR coaches will make sure your OKR transition is a success.

OKR Best Practices and Tips

While the OKR structure is fairly simple, that doesn’t mean they are easy to implement. Usually it takes 2-4 quarters for companies to start using OKRs the right way. Learn more about OKR best practices to shorten the learning curve.

Set Good OKRs from the Start

Set OKRs Before the Quarter Starts

Start setting your OKRs before the quarter starts! This is especially important for Company level Objectives. OKRs can take a lot of time, planning, and agreement (especially if it is your first time setting them. It is best to start planning the 2-4 weeks ahead of the start of the quarter. That way you are ready to go when it starts.

Communicate Objectives

Communicate the Objectives with the rest of the company and discuss why they are important. Leaders should meet together and discuss their team OKRs. From there, department/team managers should introduce their teams to the OKRs and get their feedback and ideas.

Align Team OKRs with Company Objectives.

Often people get excited coming up with new ideas when it comes to OKRs. But it is important not to forget why you are setting them in the first place: Alignment! Make sure that the majority of OKRs at the team level connect to company ones. This way everyone moves in a unified direction. A software with an OKR Hierarchy view lets you see all your goals and how they connect in an easy to view format.

Use OKR Examples

There are a lot of wrong ways to write OKRs. When you are first learning it can be good to have some examples to reference. We recommend OKRexamples.co, it has hundreds of examples of OKRs for different teams. If you are using Weekdone to track your OKRs and Weekly Check-ins, you can see example OKRs when adding OKRs with the OKR Wizard.

We have also 4 OKR examples that show not only example OKRs, but how the teams developed these OKRs

Execute your OKRs

Implement a Weekly Process

It is important to align your weekly activities to your Objectives. This helps employees engage with OKRs as they work, and makes sure their activities help move the company forward. You can read more on this in the Weekly Planning and Check-Ins section.

Hold a Team OKR Weekly Check-In

It is important to set new weekly items as well as update the Team KRs. Review every team member’s weekly items and make sure their plans are being completed. Here you can also agree on what you need to do to accomplish next week to move your OKRs forward. Read how to run a successful weekly check in here: The OKR Weekly Check In

Review Your OKRs with Your Company

Company-wide review at the end of the quarter

Hold company-wide reviews at the end of the quarter. It is important to make sure everyone takes part in the review process. That way everyone can see how far the team has come. We have a detailed article on how to run a successful company-wide quarterly review.

It may also be helpful to work with an OKR coach to see how it went and what you can do better when setting OKRs again next.  It is also good practice to hold a review in the middle of the quarter as well. This way you can make sure everyone is on the same page, and address any problems before it is too late.

When you use Weekdone for your OKR tracking and Weekly Check-ins, OKR coaching is included!

OKR Reviews for Teams

Teams should review their OKRs and write down any lessons learned. Team Managers should synthesize this information and share them at the company-wide review.

Setting Next Quarters OKRs

As mentioned above, you already need to start planning your next quarter’s OKRs 2-4 weeks before the start. As you start planning, think about how your previous OKRs went so that you can use OKRs more effectively in the coming quarter.

Common OKR Mistakes

Your objectives are too challenging or not challenging enough

You might think that your team completing 100% of their goals is great! However, this could actually mean that you have set goals that are too easy. Objectives should be ambitious, but not too difficult in order to push employees to achieve more without overwhelming them.

If you set ambitious enough goals, achieving 70-80% of them could already be a great accomplishment. When teams “expect” to achieve 70%, on the other hand, 70% becomes the new 100%, and it defeats the purpose of stretch goals.

Setting and forgetting your OKRs

You should update the progress of your Key Results regularly. OKRs should be discussed every week. Create a weekly ritual around OKRs to review them with your team. Otherwise, at the end of the quarter, you may find that you are way off track.

You have too many Objectives or Key Results

Too many Objectives or key results can take away focus on what your priorities are. Teams should have a maximum of 3 Objectives per quarter with up to 3-5 key results per Objective. That way, the amount of work will be much more manageable and far less confusing.

Your Key Results are not measurable

Key Results (KR) should be numeric. They are what makes it possible to track progress towards your Objective. Key Results help to define what success looks like. They help you understand when you can say “Oh we did great!”. KR do not drive the Objective, they actually are how you define the success of the Objective.

It’s important to remember Objectives (Goals) are your big, ambitious goals, Key Results (Outcomes) measure the achievement of an objective, and Weekly Plans (Outputs) are the daily plans and initiatives you do to reach your goals.

Not keeping the big picture in mind

This problem comes when team level Objectives are not aligned with company goals; or when individual Weekly Plans are not contributing to achieving Team Objectives.

Management should be communicating with team leaders the role their team plays in the bigger picture, and employees should understand how their activities help achieve team goals as well as the Company Objectives. Make sure to have a meeting when OKRs are created so you can move everyone in a unified direction.

OKR Books

We have a free OKR book to help you understand and put OKRs into practice. 

Step by Step Guide to OKRs

This book provides a quick, efficient read on how to get started with OKRs. It is completely free and available for download in PDF and ePub format. 

OKR Examples and Templates

OKR software and unlimited coaching for SMBs.

Weekdone is the best way for SMBs to implement OKRs. The visual OKR dashboards quickly show you how your company is doing. Our OKR coaches will make sure your OKR transition is a success.

OKR Implementation Guide

Once you’ve learned the basics of the OKR methodology, the next step is to start implementing it. When implementing OKRs, it’s important to do so in advance, starting a few weeks before the coming quarter to make the most out of the methodology.

The first thing to do is to make decisions about which teams will use OKRs 

Some common structures include:

Pilot Team

By only focusing on one team, you can work out any kinks in your cycle before introducing it to everyone. Likewise, you’ll get a mini version of what your OKR levels will look like, so you can predict how OKRs will work for the rest of your company. 

Team Leaders Only

By starting OKRs with team leaders only, you can work out alignment issues and howteam level OKRs connect to overarching company goals. 

The benefit of this approach is that this mindset shift (managing by outcomes vs outputs) is a huge change for organizations, and if you onboard the team leads properly, then everyone else will see that this framework works and should be taken seriously.


Starting everyone out using OKRs at once can be incredibly daunting, but is suitable for SMEs or companies with flat hierarchies. It takes 2-3 quarters to fully see the value of OKRs, so getting everyone started means seeing results sooner. 

1-2 Weeks Before Starting with OKRs

First, start by defining your Quarterly Company level Objectives. You may also want to have longer term Annual Objectives that connect to the Quarterly ones. However, this is optional. 

Another thing to note is to keep Annual Objectives at the Company level. Annual Objectives shouldn’t be used by lower levels or you lose the agility factor of using OKRs.

When starting out with OKRs, it’s important to remember that you should only focus on a few high level Objectives. In this case, we would suggest setting 1-3 and discussing them with managers, team leads, and whoever else is involved in the change to OKRs so everyone agrees on the most important goals for the company. 

Example: You have an annual Objective to “increase company growth.” So, for the first Quarter, your focus regarding this goal will be to “understand and analyze our customers better” or “create a better workplace for our employees.” These Quarterly Objectives help you realize your Annual Objectives by looking for the positive outcomes of better aiding customers or staff. 

You can then repeat this process at the team level. At the team level, team leads should consult their team members to decide on team-important goals while team leads should make sure that these goals align with the Company Objectives. 

Tip! Write Key Results, Not Tasks

Let’s say you are organizing an event. There are a series of tasks that need to get done to do so, for example, you may need to rent a venue, book a band, organize someone to host, hire catering, etc. These are tasks, not Key Results. Your Key Results should measure the impact of the entire event. 
For example, your Key Results can be to “sell 2000 tickets”, “get a 4.5/5 rating from TripAdvisor,”, “achieve renown at 5 different news channels”, or “have 50% of attendants sign up for the company newsletter and updates about the next event.”

The final step before finalizing OKRs is a last round of feedback where Objectives and Key Results can be added, deleted, or changed.

Weekly Check-Ins

It is incredibly important that an OKR check-in process is implemented and followed. That means teams should have Weekly Check-ins to see how their goals (Objectives) are progressing. Do not wait until the end of the quarter to do this, as OKRs are a continuous evaluation process. Likewise, if no one is checking in on their OKRs, they will probably forget about them, destroying all the hard work you put into setting them in the first place.

Once a Month

Make sure to have a meeting outside of the Weekly Check-Ins as well. This meeting should be between managers and team leads with the purpose of identifying problems and brainstorming ways to fix them.

1-2 Weeks Before the End of the Quarter

At this point, the entire company should review the Company Objectives to see the progress that has been made towards them at every level. It’s definitely a good idea to gather some input on this quarter’s OKRs and ideas for the following quarter.

Good Questions to Ask as a Team:

– How did your team perform? – How big was the contribution of the Team Objectives to the overarching company goal?
– Were the OKRs set a good choice for the team? Did they help the team make improvements for the team as well as the company?
– If the OKRs failed, then why?
– What were the challenges this quarter?
– Lessons learned – what can be done better next time?
– What are some ideas for the upcoming quarter?
– Were the KRs outcomes driving the Objective forward?
– Could we have better KRs next quarter?

Good Questions for Company Review

– How did the company move forward in achieving company goals?
– Were the results satisfactory?
– Which teams performed the best?
– How do you support teams that did not succeed? 
– Did teams feel motivated working with their OKRs?
– Was the focus clear to everybody? 
– What are the main learnings from this quarter?
– What can the company improve in their OKR setting and process?

More OKR resources