Are you struggling to create a start-up strategy that will inspire your team and align with your business plan? Entrepreneurship isn’t always easy, but with the right goal-setting tools, you too can realize success for your business.
And OKRs or Goals must be a part of that toolset. Don’t worry if that acronym seems like a fuzzy fad buzzword. We’re going to break down what they are and how your team and create goals they’ll actually hit this year.
The skill of goal writing is a fundamental skill for every leader who wants to achieve success.Stuart Leo, Founder of Waymaker.io
The skill of goal writing, mapping and delivery is a fundamental skill for every leader who wants to achieve success.
The system of goal writing, mapping and delivery is found in Waymaker.io – the intelligent business management and strategy platform.
Within this system is the regular rhythm of ideating, prioritising, committing and executing of goals across all business functions.
What are OKRs?
At Waymaker the base methodology for goal setting is from the science OKRs (Objectives & Key Results).
An OKR is a goal setting tool first ideated by Peter Drucker in ‘Management by Objectives’, then formalised by Andy Grove the CEO of Intel and made famous by John Doerr who taught it to Google as a start-up.
Whilst we use the base method of OKRs we’ve found most people find using plain language more effective. We’ve also added some practical tools such as ‘Tasks’ to connect the big thinking goals into the practical day to day.
At Waymaker we talk about Goals, Outcomes and Tasks.
With an OKR (Goal), you set ambitious goals for your team to accomplish within a set timeframe. And then you determine two to three key results (Outcomes) that will help you achieve that objective / goals.
At Waymaker there are two types of goals.
- A milestone goal which is a really important goal that an organization will strive towards such as a 1, 3 or 5 year goal.
- A general goal which is a goal used for a quarter, multi-quarter or year for an individual.
Writing an OKR or goal
One method to write an OKR is this formula:
I will [(verb – such as create, reach, attract) (goal)] by accomplishing these three outcomes (key results)]
For example, I will attract new leads for our sales team in the next quarter by increasing traffic to our website by 15%, reaching out to 5 prospects every week, and improving our sales funnel conversions by 10%.
The biggest factor to consider when creating your OKR is to make your goal an action phrase by starting with a verb. And second, ensure that each of your key results is specific and measurable. Additionally, you will want to set an established timeline by which you’ll complete each goal.
How to use OKRs in your business strategy
With our example OKR above, you saw how a team leader could set specific key results that they expect their team to reach within the next business quarter. Now, as each member of the team plans their work, they know what their priorities are.
When new opportunities present themselves, each member of the team can assess whether or not it leads to increased traffic, increased outreach, or increased conversions. And if the new opportunity doesn’t lead to one of these, then they can pass knowing it’s not a priority for the company or the team.
To help you create successful OKRs, we’ve mapped out four best practices for you to follow. For a complete guide to setting winning goals, download this eBook.
1. Ensure you’re climbing the right ladder
Before you jump into creating goals, you need to step back and look at the big picture. What is the overall business plan for your company?
There is a popular story amongst business leaders that too many people reach the top of the ladder only to find it leaning against the wrong wall. You need to ensure that your ladder isn’t leaning against the wrong wall and you’re not working towards the wrong goals. It doesn’t do you any good to set goals that aren’t based on the goals of your company.
By focusing on the big picture you can set objectives that ensure your business teams are following the right roadmap.
2. Set measurable key results (outcomes)
Once you know where you’re going, you need to determine the metrics you’ll measure to ensure you hit your target. If you think of the objectives as the roadmap you need to follow, then the key results are the milestones you must cross on your way.
Your key results must be clear and specific, your entire team must be able to understand them immediately. And they must be able to know if they’re on track to reach the milestones or not.
3. Commit to the long term but focus on the short term
As you create your OKRs be clear about the timeline. Your goals are the framework by which you base your entire strategy. So you need to have a solid foundation for your team to stand on as they plan their work. Your team can’t question whether or not they spend the next quarter reaching for certain goals only to have the leadership team change the goal midway through the game.
Once you create your objectives, stick with them long enough for your team to see results. You can set ambitious goals for the year. But then break them down into quarterly goals for your team to base their activities day by day.
4. Be transparent
Many leadership teams complain that they spend days and weeks planning out intricate strategies and set audacious goals, only to have them buried in paperwork. If you want successful OKRs then you need to be transparent with everyone on your team. Everyone within the company must be able to clearly articulate what the company goals are and how their daily tasks help the team accomplish their goals.
Many leaders might shy away from transparency for fear that others will see if they fail. However, by embracing falling short of your goals, you can re-evaluate why and realign your actions as you continue to reach for your goals.
When your goals are long-term, as mentioned in the previous tip, you don’t shy away from missing a target. Instead, you analyse what happened or didn’t happen that should have, so you can continue to work towards the overall goal.
The small idea that helps large businesses reach their goals
Many of today’s large businesses started a small start-up business. And they brought their ideas of how to run their business and how to reach their goals with them from startup to successful corporation.
OKRs are a perfect example of how an idea can adapt for both small startups and established Fortune 500 companies alike. If you’re struggling to align your strategy with your goals, then you could benefit from business coaching.
And here at Waymaker, we’ve interwoven our business insights into our business tools to help leaders like you achieve their goals. So, if you’re ready to get started, you can sign up for your free trial here and see how our app can help you accomplish more than ever before.