What's in an OKR?

In depth description of an objective


The objective describes what you want to attain by the end of the goal. It may be very specific ("book 10% more sales") or a little vague ("become a more efficient sales organization").

You can write company-wide goals, or make them specific to a team or to employees. In all cases, an objective has an owner, someone responsible for the goal success.

  • Stay focused, don't have more than 3 or 4 OKRs at any given time.
  • Keep OKRs short. Not so short that you're always setting goals but short enough to be very concrete.
  • Own the OKR. It shouldn't be imposed on you.
  • Be ambitious but realistic. If you aim higher you're more likely to attain better results. Think carefully before setting stretch goals, it's not for everyone.

Key Results

Objectives by themselves don't necessarily say much about a specific target. They don't explicit milestones either. This is where key results come into play:

OKR hierarchy

Key results can quantify the success of the objective and represent what would concretely change when the objective is reached (e.g. "we now have 20% more revenue").

Sometimes, choosing a number is not obvious. For instance, "Increase customer happiness" could be measured by a net promoter score, a number of reviews, or the number of returning customers.

Key results can also be tactical and represent your plan to get there (e.g. "deliver marketing plan by mid-quarter").

We recommend a mix of quantifying key results - to know when you get there, as well as some tactical results to more adequately measure progress. Read our tips to learn more.

If OKRs seem simple at first, it's because they are. Let's see how they're typically set.