Effectively Using OKRs

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I’ve used OKRs at several companies and found them the simplest way to set team goals while keeping everyone else aware of what’s happening. Here’s my guide to the best practices I’ve learned along the way.

Why would you want to use OKRs?

OKRs, or Objectives and Key Results, are a simple way to stay focused on what’s most important to achieve for an individual or a team.

Do you want to…

If you care about most of the above, OKRs are a great tool.

What are OKRs?

What is the single most important thing to achieve in the next three months?

Given your objective, what are the 2 to 4 ways you will measure progress towards it or measure success?*

Example 1: OKR for a city government

Objective: Increase economic investment to promote neighborhood stability1

Key Results:

  1. 95% of permits and zoning approvals will be issued on time.

  2. Increase compliance of code violations by the comply by date from 20% to 35%.

  3. Improve stability in the quality of life pilot area by 20%.

What makes a good objective?

Inspirational — it describes the desired outcome

Qualitative — non-numerical (key results cover the numbers)

Ambitious — Forces us to think of creative ways to achieve it

Important — only the most essential thing for you to accomplish, not everything you will do

Advanced tip for OKR setting! A good objective should fall in the team’s zone of influence. See Zones of Control, Influence, and Interest.

Example 2: OKR for your personal life

Objective: Have more quality family time2

Key Results:

  1. Get home for dinner by 6:00 PM, 20 nights a month.

  2. Turn off the internet router to eliminate distractions two weekend days per month.

Example 3: OKR for a marketing team**

Objective: Increase brand awareness.3

Key Results:

  1. Drive 10 000 web visitors per month.

  2. Increase social media following by 10x.

  3. Recruit and onboard 500 community members.

What makes a good key result?

Relevant — contributes to objective

Measurable and verifiable — contains a number, and you can measure it

Difficult, but not impossible — aim for 50% chance of success

Example 4: OKR for a development team

Objective: Successfully launch a new budget tool in the app by the end of the quarter.

Key Results:

  1. 20% of monthly active users use the new budget tool during the first month.

  2. Recommendation score of 8.0 or higher among users of the budget tool.

  3. All features of the budget tool are available to beta testers before the launch.

Example 5: OKR for a customer support team

Objective: Improve internal ways of working to be able to offer better customer service than ever.

Key Results:

  1. < 50% of users wait for a response of more than one hour

  2. Target our customers in the chat so well that 25% of all users receiving a teaser will click the link

Tips for setting good OKRs

Aim for the thing on the left over the thing on the right.

  1. Set only one objective per team, and two to four key results per objective — Instead of setting lots of OKRs
  2. Choose an objective that describes the most important thing that needs to change — Instead of setting business-as-usual objectives, like “Continue maintaining existing systems”
  3. Make an inspirational objective and put numbers in the key results — Instead of putting numbers in the objective
  4. Key results measure progress towards the objective — Instead of key results that are tasks
  5. Remembering that your OKR is the most important thing you will achieve — Instead of trying to capture everything you will work on
  6. Choose an OKR that stretches you a little — Instead of choosing an OKR that is easy

Frequently asked questions

Does an OKR replace a team’s backlog?

Is reaching the OKR the only thing the team can work on?


  1. City of Syracuse, New York, United States. Sometime around 2018?↩︎

  2. John Doerr, the inventor of OKRs. Adapted from: Julia Martins. “What are objectives and key results (OKRs)?” Asana Resources. October 28th, 2022, https://asana.com/resources/okr-meaning.↩︎

  3. Adapted from: Julia Martins. “What are objectives and key results (OKRs)?” Asana Resources. October 28th, 2022, https://asana.com/resources/okr-meaning.↩︎