Objectives and Key Results or OKR is becoming an increasingly famous catchphrase today. The process of setting goals has existed since long. Ever since businesses evolved into modern-day organizations, setting goals or targets or objectives have been considered necessary for those firms’ overall health, longevity, and success.
There are a few key contributions to the evolution of goal-setting systems. In the 1950s, one of the most important contributions came from Peter Drucker. His Management by Objectives (MBO) model has the underpinnings of today’s OKR framework. The MBO model allowed employees to play a role in the goal-setting process by giving them a say.
In the 1980s, George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham’s SMART goals took center stage. Their method said goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Again, these aspects also find their place in the evolved OKR framework and setting processes today.
There were a few other notable stopovers in the evolution of goal-setting and strategic management performance metrics. The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) metric was introduced in the 1990s by David Norton and Robert Kaplan. They altered goal-setting measures that existed earlier to make room for nonfinancial aspects.
One of the most well-known adopters of the OKR framework is Google. The story of how the OKR framework that came to Google is interesting. In 1968, Andy Grove developed the OKR framework based on the MBO model while at Intel.
Venture capitalist John Doerr joined Intel in the 1970s and learned about the OKR method. Later, Doerr became one of the first critical investors in Google and introduced the company’s founders to the OKR framework. The technology conglomerate continues to use the OKR goal-setting process to this date successfully.
Several strategic performance review methods that were followed in the past have played a role in shaping goal-setting processes to where they are today. And among the various ways out there, the OKR framework is undoubtedly gaining traction.
In the next section of this piece, we examine a few key trends in the evolution of OKRs that help drive organizational growth.
Top-down OKR framework
Organizations today are starting to approach the OKR framework from the top first. In other words, rather than immediately setting individual goals, they are going in with the mindset that the OKR setting process should begin by identifying the broadest, or highest, goals first. From there, they can work their way to a more micro level and reach individual goals.
Integrated OKR approach
An organization’s OKR framework needs to ensure no room for silos. For example, if a company uses more than one tool, software, or platform to track performance and goals, it must integrate its OKR software with those.
Similarly, the OKR framework can, and should be applied to other aspects of a workplace, too. The most prominent example would be meetings. Long, ambiguous meetings that leave everyone feeling more confused than ever after attending it is every corporate employee’s biggest pet peeve.
But what if companies approached meetings with the same principles as the OKR framework or OKR goal-setting process? Focused meetings are the mantra under the evolved OKR framework and for a good reason. If you have a sharp focus for every meeting, chances are your employees will walk out of the meeting with clarity on what they need to do next. That, in turn, will work towards improving productivity.
Continuous OKR Support
OKR has become such an integral part of an organization’s strategic management performance metric process that companies are taking their time to lay out their objectives in the first place. With evolving workplaces, there is no room for goals to do the same.
Therefore, companies may want to roll out their initial OKRs among some teams or departments before adopting them throughout the company. When doing this, they may discover that they need to make some necessary changes to their OKR framework for the year based on team feedback.
But some organizations could, and are, going a step beyond that. They seek support for ongoing OKR processes, coaching, and mentoring for managers and others on learning a practical OKR setting.
Tighter Goal Setting
Today, many companies are deciding to keep their goals and objectives tight. For example, they are narrowing it down to three or four instead of having seven or eight objectives. That is a more efficient way of setting goals and achieving better results. What this does is fine-tune the OKR setting process and throw the spotlight on the most important goal of the organization.
Focus on timelines
As we mentioned earlier in the piece, today’s OKR framework still draws inspiration from older strategic management performance metric processes. Timely goals were mentioned in the 1980s with the SMART approach. It continues to be just as relevant today.
This does not just apply to timelines to meet goals and objectives, although that remains important. The current OKR framework also considers why specific goals are important at a particular point in time. For example, why is one clear goal a top priority now? Answering that question makes it easier to ensure that your OKR framework is putting your highest goal first, that is, prioritizing right.
OKRs are an essential strategic management performance metric whose success is underscored by the growing OKR software market. They are instrumental in helping companies view their objectives, targets, or goals more comprehensively. OKR frameworks and processes allow organizations to understand how certain departments and teams are linked with specific purposes.
Using that as a starting point, companies can also get clarity on how the organization is working towards its goals and identify areas that need improvement. The OKR framework works better for remote or co-located workplaces where employees want flexibility in where and when they perform their tasks but seek more collaboration with peers and alignment with their organization’s highest goals.
Ultimately, the OKR framework and the OKR setting process work towards driving organizational growth and is a practical strategic performance review method to adopt.