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OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)

How to land on the moon as a team

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)

Have you ever heard of "moonshots"? These are goals that are so ambitious that at first glance they seem as unachievable as a moon landing did in 1960. Nowadays we would be more likely to talk in terms of a "Mars shot". For example: as a team, you undertake to speed up a key process in the next quarter for one of your customers by a factor of five. At the end of the quarter, the process that you have jointly driven forward is indeed three times faster than before. Did you miss your target? No, on the contrary, your customer is delighted by performance that is three times better!

What do moonshots have to do with OKRs?

In both traditional goal-setting processes and also in budget-planning processes, for example, it's a matter of achieving the intended goal as accurately as possible. Not missing it, but not exceeding it by much either. The may make sense in certain sectors, such as financial planning. In many other areas of business, however, it is a question of developing. A sprinter such as Mujinga Kambundji won't slow down just before the finish line, because she might miss her objective.

The use of "moonshot" objectives, thereby focussing on progress and not on reaching the goal, is one of the differences between OKRs and traditional goal-setting methods.

What are OKRs?

In today's fast-paced and deeply competitive business world, setting clear goals and regularly reviewing them for their effectiveness is crucially important. The framework for formulating goals, which provides us with the key to them, is the OKR – objectives and key results – method.

Objectives are precisely formulated overarching goals which an organisation or team wants to achieve. They are more like a vision, and claim to inspire. Key results are a subordinate level and are measurable results, which should quantify and ensure the objectives' progress (and not achievement of the goal per se).

What is special about the OKR method?

In addition to using very ambitious objectives, there are primarily three points which distinguish the OKR method from others:

  1. Team orientation: the team jointly sets OKRs for the team. It is not a matter of individual objectives and achievements, but what can be achieved as a team.
  2. Regular observation:whilst individual objectives are often set and get pushed to the back of the drawer, OKRs include regular check-ins. In these, current progress is considered and corrections made as applicable. Also, at the end of a cycle there is a review and planning phase. There is reflection on the previous period and the OKRs are set for the new period.
  3. Transparent communication:OKRs are open to inspection by everyone in the company. This includes management's OKRs, for example.

Why is OKR the most effective method for facilitating top-quality performance?

OKRs offer a range of advantages compared to KPIs and other control mechanisms. At team level, joint formulation of one's own OKRs helps you to focus on key priorities. At employee level, OKRs allow better integration and sense of purpose, as all the team members work transparently on the team's goals and outcomes. At overall organisational level, consistent application of the OKR method ensures that all teams are travelling in the same direction in regard to the company's strategic vision, and are all pulling together. Within the OKR cycle, it is also possible to respond quickly to changed framework conditions, such as a disruptive market environment.

OKR is a transformative method that allows companies to regulate and surpass themselves. With OKR, a company implements its vision and strategy effectively, promotes cooperation and focuses on objectives at all levels. You should definitely consider OKRs to trigger your own moon landing.

Help with the moon mission

Would you like to find out more about OKRs? Or would you like to introduce OKRs into your company, but don't know precisely how to do it? We can assist you with your plans.

Additional information about OKRs can be found below.

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Published: 7. November 2023

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