OKRs are a great way to align teams and set ambitious goals. However, they’re only useful if everyone is committed to them.
Ambitious objectives inspire people and motivate them to achieve high results. They also encourage innovation and creativity. The key to success with OKR is having measurable and challenging objectives with specific key results that demonstrate value.
1. Be Specific
An ambitious OKR is nothing without a plan of action. That’s why it’s important to set measurable goals and include a clear timeline. This will help to ensure your team’s work is aligned with company objectives and is a key step to ensuring success with the OKR framework.
The SMART goal-setting methodology, which requires a measureable and attainable objective, can be difficult to reconcile with the qualitative character of an OKR. The most powerful way to approach setting an ambitious OKR is to involve the entire team in the process and empower them to write their own goals rather than having them handed down from a leadership perspective.
Involving the team in the process will also encourage ownership of the goals and ensure they are tied to broader strategic company goals. In addition, assigning owners will ensure that everybody knows who to go to with questions or problems.
2. Be Ambitious
The key to success with OKRs is combining inspiring ambitions and concrete actions. The goals should be measurable and attainable, but they should also stretch employees by challenging them to go beyond their current capabilities. This will help them do more than they would have thought possible.
According to Doerr, the key to successful OKRs is alignment: Clear deadlines create urgency, objective measurement removes subjectivity, and frequent check-ins allow for prompt action if a goal needs to be adjusted. It’s also important to limit the number of objectives and key results — too many will create confusion.
Finally, Doerr recommends making sure ambitious goals are communicated clearly and frequently to encourage team members’ motivation and buy-in. This will ensure that everyone is aware of how their work contributes to the company’s overall success and growth.
3. Be Specific and Measurable
Aspirational OKRs should challenge your teams to step out of their comfort zones, but they should also be realistic. This is why it is important to establish measurable key results for each objective. Then, at the end of each goal cycle (quarter or semester), your team can grade their progress (e.g. getting 70% of the way to their goal) and reflect on how to best move forward in the future.
As John Doerr explains in Measure What Matters, objectives describe where you want to go and key results provide the how of reaching those goals. He calls these the “yin and yang” of goal setting. Objectives can shift over time to adapt to changing circumstances and new information, while key results should be measurable and attainable at all times.
4. Be Flexible
When you have ambitious goals, your team should understand that they may not achieve them 100% of the time. According to Doerr, this is the point of OKRs, to encourage people to take risks and think outside the box.
Achieving your objectives shouldn’t be linked to performance reviews or decisions about pay or promotions, which can discourage risk-taking. Instead, focus on keeping teams motivated by measuring and sharing progress.
Having flexible goals allows you to shift course based on new information or changing circumstances. For example, if an objective isn’t delivering value to your company, you can change it during the quarter to something more ambitious. However, your key results must effectively make it possible to reach the new goal. It is important to remember that your objectives and key results should align with business goals.
5. Be Specific and Measurable
Ensure that each objective is clearly defined and contains a few key results. Each key result should be measurable, so that progress can be accurately tracked. Each key result should also have an owner on the team to hold them accountable for meeting their target.
Lastly, each key result should stretch the team. This will force them to think outside the box and take on new challenges that may seem impossible at first glance. This will make them grow and enable them to achieve their objectives in the future.
Keeping these four factors in mind will help you set ambitious OKRs that your team and organization can successfully achieve. This will lead to increased growth and success for your business. Ultimately, that’s what every company wants!