OKRs, or objectives and key results, are a system that companies use to chart their progress each quarter. It started in the 1970s with a challenge Intel's president Andy Grove called "Operation Crush." The goal was to "crush" the microchip market, and Grove laid out specific steps to reach where he wanted his team to go and how they would get there. Some studies show the efficiency of this method. It's simple and it works.
While I want to reach clear-cut goals for my company, I have to admit that doing something as disciplined as the traditional OKRs is a challenge for me. I'm the sort of person who just wants to barrel in and do the work to tackle the tasks I need to complete each day.
There really is no business too small to use this method. I hesitate to say this because it's challenging and takes time that you may not have as a startup, but the earlier you get in the habit of setting the goals you need to succeed, the better. You may still be a solopreneur, but nonetheless, you should be codifying habits like this now. And when you hit your target, you'll realize the value of planning ahead. This is how we do it at my company Alice.
Set Goals Quarterly
My co-founder Carolyn Rodz and I get together and decide what our goals are for the entire company each quarter. For example, this quarter, we want to raise the number of total registered owners on our website, entice those users to visit the site more often, and secure new enterprise partners. The numbers we chose are big ones, which will be a reach for us. But we believe that if we are calculated about laying out the steps we need to attain those goals, we can achieve practically anything.
Not sure what your goals should be for the quarter? Look at your endgame. Is it acquisition? Unicorn status? Think about how long you think it will realistically take to make that happen. How much of that can you achieve in three months? Write it down and make it a reality.
Outline Team Priorities
Then, we share our company objectives with the entire staff. The next step was dividing into different teams to set goals for each team based on what they would need to do to get us to the company wide OKRs.
We maintain boards on the note taking app Notion with all of our strategic priorities, as well as plans from the assigned quarterbacks for each of the goals, whether it's onboarding new members to our communities or scheduling speaking engagements for the team.
The team knows what falls into its purview. It's just a matter of figuring out steps that they can take as a unit to work toward those goals. At our company, teamwork is of the utmost importance. It's a priority to know what cannot be done just by an individual and to combine our skills to complete those tasks.
Figure Out Individual Goals
Once the broader teams met and wrote down their goals, whether they take care of sales, work on product, or deal with marketing, each individual then sat down and outlined their OKRs for the quarter. Each one was intended to best serve reaching the goals of the group, which in turn will help bring our intentions for the company to fruition.
These tend to be very specific. For example, each member of our editorial team has set out the number of blogs and guides to help our owners that they plan to post to our website each week, as well as the percentage of their time it will take to achieve that. That leaves room to focus on the other tasks that will also help the company grow.
To meet your goals, OKRs are a useful way to lay out your priorities and learn from successes and failures in near equal measure. But I'm confident that this quarter my team will meet their goals. I expect nothing less than a different kind of OKR-- obvious kickass results.