DevHealth

Goal setting with OKRs

June 22, 2019

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I’ve always struggled to plan my goals. Motivation and endorphin rush from setting goals kept up for a few days or weeks and then I forgot about my objectives. You can improve planning by using a system to define measurable goals and doing regular reviews of the progress.

There are many goal setting techniques out there and one of the most popular ones is OKR.

What are OKRs

Objectives and key results (OKR) is a framework for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes (Wikipedia).

Andy Grove, a former CEO of Intel, popularized the idea of OKRs and they became widely adopted in the tech industry. OKRs can be defined either quarterly, annually or for the time frame that works for the individual or a company.

Objectives

Objectives define the overall goal you want to achieve. Sample objective could be “Increase DevHealth blog traffic”.

You can have multiple objectives to achieve within a time frame. To really help double down on the objectives, I chose only 3.

Key Results

Key Results are more fine-grained and tuned goals of each objective. An example of key results can be “Hit 500 visitors per month”. These key results are measurable, meaning you can review the progress at the end of the time frame.

You can track the progress of these goals in a simple sheet like the one here or in a specialized tool, such as Weekdone.

Running field

Company OKRs

With OKRs, companies can align individual and team objectives with core corporate ones. OKRs are typically publicly shared within the company which enables easier collaboration with other team members or teams.

Objectives can be defined from both top-down or bottom-up. The top-down strategy allows leadership to define goals and pass them to workers and the bottom-up can help workers propose goals.

This way, workers can help shape up objectives and key results for the company, which results in greater satisfaction since everyone is working towards a common goal.

How to set OKRs

  • Objectives. Objectives are high-level goals you want to achieve. Examples could be “Increase DevHealth blog traffic” or “Increase recurring revenues”.
  • Key Results. A key result is a measurement of success. If the objective is “Increase DevHealth blog traffic”, your key results can be “Hit 500 visitors per month”, “Publish 8 posts per quarter” and “Publish at least 1 post per 2 weeks”. I recommend defining up to 4 key results for each objective.

    • Action Plan Summary. Write down how will you measure success for each key result. For an example of “Hit 500 visitors per month”, you could look into Google Analytics monthly visitor statistics.
    • “Why?”. Write down why do you want to achieve each key result. Example “Hit 500 visitors per month” could have a reason “Improve developers’ lives by teaching healthy mental habits”.
  • Monthly grading. Add an ability to provide a measurement of success for a key result. I added percentage input for each month and the provided sheet automatically calculates the total objective success by grading individual key results.
  • Review. Review OKRs every 2 weeks and add a grade at the end of the month. Succeeding in the monthly key results will give you the confidence to finish the objective.

Conclusion

You are now ready to define and achieve goals with OKRs. Remember the difference between a system and a goal. You set a direction with a goal and system brings you there.

Target about 70% completion of OKR goals. This is why you need to pick objectives that are slightly out of reach or uncomfortable. If you achieve 100% of the total score, you didn’t pick hard enough goals and if you are getting 50% or less, you should define a more realistic goal.

Success

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Janez Cadez

Refactor your life. Improve mental health, avoid burnout and practise self-care. Written by Janez Čadež. Proofread by Tina Petan.