OKR Methodology explained

As a company leader, your job is to create the what for your team—a clear vision for everyone to align with to achieve success. Without vision, your people are basically walking around in a fog. They may be “moving needles,” but without your vision as a leader, they cannot possibly hope to contribute in a meaningful way to a prosperous quarter or year for your company.

Enter: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). OKRs is a framework for defining and tracking business objectives and outcomes used by many of the highest-performing organizations in the world. With 15Five's Objectives feature, you can build and track OKRs that unify your team and inspire them to work toward the right goals, so everyone moves forward together.

In this article, you will learn...

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👥 This article is relevant to all roles.
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What is an OKR?

OKRs stands for Objectives and Key Results and is a framework for defining and tracking business objectives and outcomes. Andy Grove, dubbed “The Grandfather of OKRs” created and rolled out this methodology when he was CEO of Intel. One of Grove’s seminar students, John Doerr, went on to write #1 New York Times bestseller "Measure What Matters," where he shares how OKRs helped tech giants from Intel to Google achieve explosive growth—and how they can help any organization thrive.

  • Objectives are what the organization or individual wants to accomplish, and are typically qualitative or subjective, ambitious, and time-bound.
  • Key Results are concrete, specific, and measurable. They should describe how you will accomplish the objective and measure whether you are on track, behind, or at risk of accomplishing an objective.

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Using the OKR framework, leaders can align the organization around shared goals and ensure employees are working on the right things to move the business forward. This also allows employees to more easily gauge their progress and feel a sense of achievement in their role.


OKR Journey in 15Five

Here is an example of an OKR process, but your organization’s blueprint may differ:

1️⃣ Determine quarterly objectives and add them to 15Five

Select 3-5 company objectives that you want to focus on for the quarter. From there, each team should set 1-3 group objectives that align with the company objectives. Employees can then work with their managers to set 1-3 individual objectives that are aligned with team and company objectives. Learn how to create an objective.

2️⃣ Update objective progress

Objective and key result owners can set the status of their objectives and/or key results either from the Objectives tab or as they fill out their Check-ins. Objectives are included in the Check-in to keep them top of mind every week and allow employees to update the progress on Key Results throughout a set timeframe. We also include Objectives at the top of the weekly Check-in so managers know what employees are working on and to provide context during 1-on-1s.

3️⃣ Monitor progress, remove roadblocks, and celebrate wins

Research shows that the ability to see the distance from the goal is crucial, so monitoring goal progress is necessary for goal setting to work. Use built-in reporting to keep track of objective progress. Managers of objective owners can use Check-ins to keep an eye on how the objective is progressing and help remove obstacles. During 1-on-1s managers can obtain deeper insight into their team members’ work and the factors that influence or hinder progress. Use 15Five's High Fives feature to recognize hard work and achievements along the way.

4️⃣ Complete objectives and evaluate progress

At the end of each quarter, employees will evaluate (i.e. score) their OKRs (Targets set by the company can be between 50-70% success for aspirational OKRs or 100% for commitment-based OKRs). Employees and managers decide whether employees should continue incomplete objectives, which only occurs if they are still important to the business. During performance reviews, employees and managers celebrate the wins and learn from the failures.

5️⃣ Begin the process again!

Then, it's time to start the cycle again for the next quarter. Evaluate the outcomes, learn from the process, and use these insights to refine future objectives and drive ongoing improvement. By continuously setting, tracking, and completing objectives, you can create a culture of growth, progress, and success within your organization.


Write an effective OKR

The OKR Formula

OKRs follow the format, "I will do 'X' as measured by 'Y'." In other words, "I will complete my objective as measured by the completion of these key results."

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Think of objectives like a headline of what you are trying to accomplish — they should be aspirational and inspiring, and infer the “why” behind the initiative. Objectives should be the answer to the question “So what?” Key Results are more like subheadings, and provide specificity on what exactly you are aiming for. They are measures or milestones, without which you would not have achieved success. They should be grounded in data, time-boxed, numeric, and real.

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A well-constructed OKR means completion of the key result MUST move the needle significantly in meeting the intentions of the objective. If meeting the key result doesn’t move the needle on the objective, it’s not a good key result. If the objective does not communicate the impact of the initiative, it’s not a good objective.

This worksheet is a great tool to help you prepare to add your OKRs to 15Five.

OKR Examples

Top-down OKR Example

Company Mission: Create the Space for People to Become their Greatest Selves 

Company Objective: Rethink the Product Foundations to Meet Enterprise Needs

Team Objective: Design a flexible method for customers to categorize and find data

Key Result #1: Discover the top 3 pain points from enterprise customers through interviews and the annual feedback survey
Key Result #2: Confirm solution with engineers and internal stakeholders with 100% approval on the design
Key Result #3: Validate the best solution with 2 customers through feedback that has 80% average approval on the design

Customer Success OKR Example

Objective: Delight our current customers in Q3

Key Result #1: Achieve a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 50 or better in Q3
Key Result #2: Reduce customer churn rate to 2% or less in Q3
Key Result #3: Generate 50 new online customer reviews in Q3

Marketing OKR Example

Objective: Improve our brand health in Q3

Key Result #1: Increase unaided brand awareness from 20% to 35% in Q3
Key Result #2: Increase the total market perception that our brand is “good value” from 3.5 to 4 in Q3

Product OKR Example

Objective: Improve the way we validate our product roadmap in Q3

Key Result #1: Develop and market test a user testing questionnaire in Q3
Key Result #2: Conduct 30+ user testing and interview sessions in Q3
Key Result #3: Prepare retro deck of findings from first round of user testing in  Q3

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