Frequently Asked Questions

about Objectives and Key Results, OKR Cycle and Implementation

What is an OKR?

“OKR” stands for “Objective & Key Result.” OKRs are an effective agile goal-setting and leadership tool for communicating what you want to achieve and what drivers you’ll need to define in order to accomplish it. OKRs are used by some of the leading organizations to set and execute their strategies. 

What’s the difference between OKRs and KPIs?

OKRs are:

  • Action-Orientated Goals
  • Define and measure Advancements
  • Focus on Outcome
  • Future-focused, directional
  • Should be aggressive and bold, towards your strategic goals / vision / mission
  • Has a set time period (OKR Cycle), OKRs changes in the next OKR Cycle.

KPIs are:

  • # that measure the health of your business
  • Measures “Business as Usual”
  • Focuses on Output
  • Most of the time lagging indicators
  • Monitors the “steady-state” and provides benchmarks
  • Measured on an on-going basis

Ask yourself if it’s an OKR or KPI:

  • Are you doing anything differently? It’s an OKR
  • Is there already an established process? It’s a KPI
  • Are we building, improving, or innovating? It’s an OKR
  • Will we continue to do what we already do? It’s a KPI
What are the reasons to set OKRs?

• It breaks the year into a manageable time period
• It creates an opportunity to celebrate little wins
• It empowers for teamwork and better communication
• It allows employees to show progress
• It allows you to make smarter & faster decisions
• It enables employees to build on their success
• It enables managers/employees to be focused
• It empowers the entire organization to think about development all year long

What are the different Types of OKRs?

Aspirational OKRs: Big Picture Ideas – working on the business

Operational OKRs (Committed): (Company Metrics: Product Launch, No of Customers, etc) Management will typically set these at the company level while employees set goals at department levels – working in the business

Learning OKRs: Encourages teams to test a hypothesis by exploring an unproven theory or strategy. They are useful for defining success when the outcome is uncertain.

How to improve OKRs when they are not working?

OKR Improvement Checklist

1. Less is more: Focus on what really matters for your organization and team. Fewer OKRs are better.
2. Set at least 50% of the goals from the bottom up: The most powerful OKRs often originate within the teams. OKRs can help these team members see how their work aligns and contributes to overall goals.
3. No dictating: Collective agreement is essential to maximize goal achievement. 
4. Stay flexible: If you realize you are heading in the wrong direction, you can adjust your Key Results during the OKR Cycle
5. Dare to fail: It is good to have committed OKRs, things that everyone agrees must be achieved. But one of the most compelling aspects of OKRs is the “aspirational OKR.” If you heading for the mars but land on the moon, it is still a huge step towards your goal. 
6. A tool, not a weapon: Don’t use OKRs for compensation or bonus system. You will create a sandbagging system in your organization.
7. Be patient: OKRs are trial and error. It may take a few cycles before they feel natural, or even go well. It is like building up your OKR muscle, it takes time.

What is the difference between Input vs. Output vs. Outcome?

Output is something that you do

Outcome is something that happens as a consequence of what you do

Input is something you can influence, in your control

What are the Key Questions you need to answer before deploying OKRs?

Examples of Deployment Parameters: The questions we must answer before implementing OKRs

1. Levels: At what level will we set Objectives and Key Results?
2. Number: How many OKRs will we set?
3. Scoring: How will we score OKRs?
4. Cycle Time: How long is an OKR cycle?
5. Tooling: Where do we draft, publish, and track the OKRs? What kind of templates or software do we use?
6. Performance Reviews: How will OKR relate to performance reviews/appraisals?
7. OKRs vs KPIs: How do we differentiate OKR from KPI?
8. Alignment: How will we ensure OKRs are aligned in the organization and teams?
9. Bottoms-Up: How will we ensure most OKRs come from the bottom-up?
10. Agile Tools: What agile process do you already have? And what heartbeat?
11. Pilot Group: How will we ensure to include OKR enthusiastic people in the pilot group?

Who are the main participants in the OKR Cycle?
  • OKR Sponsor
  • Internal Coaches (OKR Practitioner or Champion): 1 for every 50 employees
  • External Coaches (optional)
  • OKR Coordinator 
  • OKR Lead
  • Key Result Lead
  • OKR Contributors
What are the potential pitfalls when implementing OKRs?
  • Set and forget OKRs
  • Lack of planning
  • Missing Strategy
  • No accountability
  • Limited cross functional communication
  • Focus on deliverables, not outcomes
  • Too many OKRs
  • Over-cascading OKRs
  • Not training or educating organization
  • Not using retrospectives to continuously improve
What are the motivators for engaged employees?
  • the work itself
  • relationship with co-workers
  • opportunity to use skills and ability
  • relationship with immediate superior
  • contribution of work to organization’s goals
  • autonomy and independence

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