Objectives and Key Results: How to Set and Manage Goals with OKR

Kathrin Jungwirth, Tuesday 19 March 2019 | Reading time: 7 min.

Leadership changes in times of agile organizations. The popular OKR method offers a simple approach to link company goals with the objectives of employees and makes them measurable.

OKR – A Goal Setting Framework

OKR stands for "Objectives and Key Results". It is a management method that is currently becoming increasingly popular with large companies such as Google, Twitter and Zalando. The approach is not only interesting for large and fast growing companies: Simple rules and high flexibility make OKRs an efficient tool to transfer company goals to teams and employees, to keep track of progress and to make objectives measurable.

The Ultimate Guide to OKRs

Measurable key results are assigned to each objective.

The achievement of objectives is checked at regular intervals (e.g. quarterly). New OKRs are then defined for the next period. The individual key results may be set ambitiously in order to motivate the employees. The goals and key results are not set "from above" but are developed together. This guarantees commitment and focus with every individual.

First the OKRs of the company are defined and then for each team subdivided. In this way you ensure company-wide prioritisation and:

  • Focus throughout the company
  • Focus in the different departments & teams
  • Focus for each individual employee

Everyone knows what they have to do by when and can focus their daily work on these goals.

To make this approach work, define no more than five objectives, each with a maximum of four key results per person. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of OKR

OMCs provide clarity at all levels of the organisation. They guarantee the correct use of limited resources and create transparency for all parties involved. The measurability of the individual key results is also convincing, as vague corporate visions become tangible. 

Nevertheless, OKRs hold frustration potential in terms of employee motivation. If the goals are set too high, the team feels as if it is "chasing after" a dream that cannot be achieved. Goals should be set high within this model, but make sure they remain realistic. A further prerequisite for the use of the OKRs is that each employee knows how the method works. A workshop is recommended as an introduction to explain the fundamentals.

Examples of OKRs from different business areas

Example 1: Marketing

  • Objective: We have a brand with high recognition value.
  • Key Result 1: 10% more visits from the organic Google search
  • Key Result 2: 5 placings in the press 

Example 2: Production

  • Objective: We produce without back back orders.
  • Key Result 1: 10% less scrap
  • Key Result 2: 5% reduction in non-productive time in production 

Example 3: Human Resources

  • Objective: We have a unique team spirit.
  • Key Result 1: Every new employee becomes part of our buddy program.
  • Key Result 2: We support the solidarity with 2 team events.
  • Key Result 3: We promote cross-departmental collaboration with one cross-departmental exchange meeting per month.

OKRs with InLoox

Manage OKRs comfortably and easily? With the InLoox project management software you can organize your OKRs quickly and clearly - alone or transparently in a team. At the same time, you not only set goals, but also define individual key results as specific to-dos.

The OKRs are very flexible and can be customized. Goals and key results should always be easy to manage. InLoox offers several possibilities to visualize OKRs. In the following, we present a solution for mapping OKRs with InLoox. We use this approach ourselves in a similar way.

You can manage the OKRs via an InLoox project. In the project you work with the project plan and the Kanban board. Based on the company objectives you define the objectives for your team or departement. Starting from this you can develope personal key results for each team member, which contribute to the departement objectives. Attention: This is not a 1:1 illustration of the OKR model, but an adaptation that meets our needs for daily use!

Feel inspired and develop your own approach to illustrate OKRs with InLoox:

1. InLoox Project to Organize Team and Employee OKRs

First you create a new OKR project in InLoox. With this you organize together with your team the goals of the department and the corresponding key results of each individual. As start and end date you define the beginning and end of the OKR period - for example from 1 January to 31 March 2019. Add the members of your project team or your department to the project.

InLoox Project to Organize Team and Employee OKRs


2. Project Plan with Summary Activities & Activities

Switch to the planning and create a rough project plan for orientation. A summary activity is created for each team or department objective. In each summary activity a activity for each employee is created to display the individual key results. At the end, you create a milestone for the retrospective.

Project Plan with Summary Activities & Activities


3. Tasks with Individual Key Results

Switch to the tasks and first adjust the kanban board for illustrating the OKRs. We use the following columns:

  • Backlog: Tasks that are pending but do not have a high priority for the current key results. These are processed when there is time, or they are taken to the next quarter.
  • KR Q1: All key results for the first quarter are first collected here.
  • Target not reached: All key results that have not been achieved.
  • Target reached/overachieved: All KRs reached or overachieved.

In the task description, you specify the key results and, if required, define further intermediate steps that are necessary to reach the respective result. Working with the Kanban board is particularly useful for retrospectives. Here you can see at a glance what has been achieved or not achieved in the respective quarter.

Tasks with Individual Key Results


4. Assign Key Results to Objectives

Go back to the planning screen. Here you decide which key result contributes to which objective. The corresponding tasks are then assigned to the individual activity of the responsible resource in the summary activity of the objective using drag-and-drop.

Assign Key Results to Objectives


Want to start with OKRs quickly? Try our planning template for OKRs with InLoox:

>> Download Planning Template <<


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