Why You Should Be Using OKRs

How to keep your team ambitious and on track.
October 29, 2013

Companies such as Google and Zynga use a system built on OKRs (Objective and Key Results) to track employee effectiveness. Essentially, an OKR is a stated goal. Progress to the OKR can be viewed by the entire company.

There is a pre-defined rubric to measure your success in achieving it; typically, an OKR can be viewed in decimal form in order to get an overall glimpse of progress. A good OKR generally is around a 0.6 – 0.7. (If you consistently have an OKR of 1, which means you are always achieving your goals, that means you aren’t aiming high enough!)

Flurry Mobile product lead Kenton Kivestu, formerly of Google and Zynga, offers guidance on selecting effective OKRs:


Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t mean the OKR needs to be explicitly quantitative (eg drive X% increase in sign-ups or Y% year over year growth in recurring revenues), although it’s fine if that is the case. But it definitely needs to be measurable in the sense that the team can unequivocally evaluate their progress at the end of the OKR period.


OKRs are like money. Mo’ money, mo’ problems. The surest way to negate any positive impact from a good OKR is to set 10 good OKRs. It can seem alluring at first – “we’ll accomplish so many things this quarter/year!” – but it will backfire. There is little doubt that 10 good OKRs is worse than nothing. Your team will be torn between competing priorities – should John the engineer work on X or Y this sprint? One will get us closer to OKR A and the other toward OKR B. Inevitably this leads to prioritizing OKRs – this might work if you have 1 or 2 but anymore than that is going to be a recipe for a wasted quarter.

This article was originally published on 99u.com.

Herbert Lui is exploring the intersection of art and entrepreneurship. He is a writer and specializes at content marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn, and see more of his work on Contently. He is the author of a free guide to building credibility online, titled Brick by Brick.

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