It’s the time of the year where we have to submit our OKRs for work.
It’s not that bad, actually. I’ve grown to embrace and actually like doing things like this (flashback to me 10 years ago, absolutely stricken with fear about KPIs), so this was a good exercise in reflection and looking forward, especially since I’ve paired this with getting feedback and identifying growth areas.
OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results, which is an approach of setting goals, recently made popular by John Doerr at Google. (You can see a quick history of it here.)
It was new to me personally too, until joining my current organization, because the others used the more common KPI (Key Performance Indicators) to track static goals for the financial year ahead.
Objectives are usually more qualitative (e.g. Develop core craft skills), with the Key Results being quantifiable metrics by a specific time-bound period (e.g. Improve UX strategy skills by attending 1 course by Q2) to measure whether you are on track to achieving the objective.
How do they work?
In my team, my creative director has a set of her OKRs, which are by themselves a cascade of the CEO’s. The team then takes her objectives, and define our own KRs to be better suited for our levels and ways of working.
Once that alignment with the team or organization is done, an individual could choose to have their own personal objective(s) as well. It seems like 3 – 5 objectives are what is being used by most organizations.
Last year, which was my first year adapting to this system, I had 5 objectives. By the end of the year, I’d achieved an average of 65% of what I intended to achieve. According to several places, an objective could be viewed as successful by a score between 60% to 70% (anything higher than a 90% would mean that the objectives weren’t ambitious enough, in the world of stretch goals).
This year, I’ll have 4 OKRs, and the good thing is that they’re all aligned to my growth plan for my short, mid and long term views.
Maybe next quarter I’ll implement personal OKRs for myself too.