OKRs for newbies part 1

Hello everyone! This post is for those that are starting as a PM and want to understand the basics or are new entrepreneurs. I am going to write everything very straight and clear, so you can understand the main idea about what OKRs are.

Firstly and most important, acknowledges. This post wouldn’t be possible without the help of this magnificent person: Christina Wodtke. She is an author, professor, and speaker that has been working for more than twenty years in the areas of product, design thinking, OKRs, and so on. If you want to know more about her work, check her place at www.eleganthack.com.

I got the idea to write a post reviewing her work done at “Radical focus: achieving your most important goals with” for those that want to go straight to the subject, but I strongly recommend reading her book which is easy to understand and clear. Said that, let’s get started.

OKRs are a system, a methodology that helps you to focus on your objectives and the measurable steps you can take towards achieving them.

Easy, right? That is the reason why entrepreneurs and PM use OKR to achieve their business or product objectives. But OKRs are not a magic trick that helps you to achieve something automatically. You need to work hard on maintaining the objective and not losing focus.

But sometimes, we don’t get things done, and we

  • We haven’t prioritized our goals: when everything is important nothing is important.
  • We haven’t communicated the goal enough: You have to constantly repeat yourself, what is your goal.
  • We don’t have a plan to get things done: As we said OKRs make you keep on track but you need a plan to achieve your want. This process reminds you what to do, not how.
  • We haven’t made time for what matters: List up your tasks and prioritize. What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.
  • We give up instead of iterate: Every fail is unique and every success is similar. Learn from your failures because these are special.

Now that we understood what are OKRs and how to avoid bad approaches let’s talk about how they work.

Said that let’s see what is the meaning behind the name. OKR stands for Objectives and Key results, where the objective is qualitative and the key results are quantitative.

The objectives have to be:

  • Qualitative and inspirational
  • Timebound
  • Actionable by the team independently

Key results on the other hand come by asking: How we would know if we met our objective? And can be based on anything you can measure as:

  • Growth
  • Engagement
  • Revenue
  • Performance
  • Quality

You should pick one OKR at a time and with no more than three metrics so you and your team can focus on what is important. Last but not least, OKRs need to be aligned with your mission

Here is a hypothetical and general example with a qualitative objective and some metrics.

Objective: To be the number one grocery store in the area.

KR: Revenue at 20K (Revenue)

KR: Net promoter score at 8/10 (Customer’s willingness to recommend) (Quality)

KR: Amount of new customers over 30% (Growth)

As you can observe, by achieving these metrics I can consider that I am the number one grocery store in the area. I have good numbers, most of my customers want to recommend my store, and lastly, my influence is good enough to attract new customers over time.

You have to set your metrics and your objective with the help of your executive board or with your business partner. There are also some important thoughts that you must be aware of:

  • Key results must be difficult but not impossible.
  • Do not change your OKRs if you see yourself failing
  • Get ready to fail big because you will.
  • There are some methodologies as SCRUM that help OKR to be done.

With this, you have a clear idea about what is an OKR, and how to start writing your first one. OKRs are difficult to maintain at the beginning, but it is the best way to track your success and keep your team focus.

It is very important to have just one OKR at a time, you can have one for each quarter and you need to allow yourself to invest at least three months for each OKR.

In the next OKRs for newbies part 2, I will talk about how to jot down our first OKR page and how to work with it.

Would love to hear your thoughts. I can be found on Linkedin here. and Twitter, website here

Hello everyone! This is Jorge Herna, I am a Product Manager from Barcelona with over seven years of experience as a BDM.