Establish your OKR Parameters

Successful OKR implementations start by setting the setting the initial parameters for an OKR work plan. This requires input from a range of actors including:

  • External coach (us)

  • Executive Sponsor (often the CEO or head of a division or business unit)

  • OKR Project Lead (an internal employee charged with high level oversight of the OKR initiative)

  • OKR Coordinator (an internal employee responsible with day to day administration of the OKR initiative)

  • HR lead (ensures harmonisation between the OKR initiative and HR policies and processes)

This group, sometimes with one or two others, works to establish the ten universal deployment parameters. Setting these in advance helps give everyone clarity about how OKRs will be deployed in an organisation. The 10 parameters are:

  1. At which level will OKRs be set?  Will OKRs be used to for company-level objectives or will they be applies at the level of business units or teams?  If they are applied to teams, are they functional teams or cross-functional teams?  Will individuals have OKRs (not recommended initially) and how would this impact performance management processes?

  2. How many OKRs will be set? (generally, less is more) And how many KRs will be set for each objective? (more than one and less than five is usually best)

  3. How will achievement of OKRs be scored?  There are a number of possible approaches (binary, 0-1 or 0%-100% scale, stretch-target-commit, commit-aspirational).  What approach is best for your organisation?

  4. How long will your OKR cycle be?  OKR cycles are typically quarterly but sometimes longer or shorter cycles may be better.  Four-month cycles are becoming increasingly popular.

  5. How will you structure Key Results?  Metric, baseline, or milestone, or a combination of the three?

  6. What technology will you use to draft, publish and track OKRs? Whatever technology you use, it should be accessible to everyone involved in developing, monitoring, and implementing OKRs.  We have relationships with several vendors of excellent OKR tracking software and can help you find and configure a system that meets your needs.

  7. How will OKRs relate to performance reviews?  You will need to carefully consider the relationship between OKRs and individual performance reviews.  Asa general rule, we discourage strong linkages between the two but there are opportunities for individual contributions to OKR achievement to factor into performance reviews.

  8. How are OKRs different from KPIs? Although some KRs can also be treated as KPIs, they are not the same and you will need to be clear about the difference between the two sets of measures.

  9. How will you ensure OKRs are aligned?  You will need to ensure that OKRs are aligned to the extent that they don't act at cross purposes to one another or to higher level company objectives.  But we don't recommend simply cascading OKRs from one level to another as this is contrary to the underlying philosophy of OKRs that they are used to effect the changes that are most needed to enable a team (however defined) to deliver on their mission.

  10. How will we get team members involved in bottom up development of KRs?  While objectives are often set by managers, it is critical that team members are involved in defining the associated KRs.  Involving team members into KR development taps into their unique experience and insights and helps build buy-in and commitment to the resulting KRs.