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How to Write Effective OKRs

The YOW Team

Creating effective Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is crucial for guiding teams toward success. OKRs provide a transparent path to achieving an Objective while allowing teams the flexibility to devise their own strategies. Key Results (KRs) are pivotal in measuring progress and clarifying the desired outcomes. Let’s explore the key components of well-written OKRs.

Clarity and Measurement

Good KRs offer a precise understanding of what is essential for team progress and how to measure that progress. They focus on outcomes rather than dictating specific steps. For instance, compare these two versions of an OKR for getting a candidate elected:

Less Effective

  • KR1: Develop and execute an effective door-knocking campaign.
  • KR2: Send out multiple mailers introducing our candidate.
  • KR3: Set up voter registration booths at community events.
  • KR4: Devise platform messaging.

More Effective

  • KR1: Knock on 20,000 doors within the first 30 days of the campaign.
  • KR2: Target 25,000 homes in high-turnout districts with a direct mail campaign.
  • KR3: Get 8,000 people to commit to voting for our candidate within 30 days.
  • KR4: Achieve at least 55% approval for our campaign messaging in surveys.
  • KR5: Generate at least 65,000 votes for our candidate.

Types of Key Results

KRs can be categorized into Inputs, Outputs, and Outcomes. Each type guides teams in different ways:

Inputs: These KRs focus on specific tasks or activities that teams can control, such as the number of doors knocked, flyers sent, or materials produced.

Outputs: These KRs result from inputs or activities, like the commitments gained from door-knocking or the number of products sold.

Outcomes: Outcome KRs define the desired end result, emphasizing value and impact. They empower teams to strategize creatively to achieve the objective.

Choosing the Right Type

Consider the nature of your objective and how you want to guide your team:

  • Inputs are suitable when you want to emphasize specific tasks or efforts. They are tangible and measurable actions.
  • Outputs: Use outputs to focus on results directly from specific activities. They provide insight into progress.
  • Outcomes: For highlighting the overall value and impact of an objective, use outcome KRs. These encourage creative problem-solving and independent strategies.

Balancing Types of KRs

To strike the right balance, consider blending different types of KRs within an OKR. Inputs and outputs should contribute to clear outcomes:

  • Inputs and outputs must lead to clear outcomes.
  • Outcomes imply the underlying inputs and outputs.

Crafting Effective OKRs

Craft your OKRs thoughtfully to guide your team effectively:

  • Prioritize clarity and measurement in KRs.
  • Choose the appropriate type of KR for your objective.
  • Balance different KR types for a comprehensive approach.
  • Emphasize outcomes for maximum impact and value.

By focusing on these principles, you can write OKRs that inspire teams, provide clarity, and drive success toward your desired objectives. Remember, a well-written OKR doesn’t just guide; it empowers and aligns teams to achieve remarkable results.