What is OKR, and why is it important?

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a very popular goal system that was introduced and popularized by Andrew Grove when he was with Intel. Since then, a lot of brands like Google have taken up the approach and implemented it highly successfully. You can find experts in most industries advocating OKR and singing its praises.

OKRs generally comprise two elements – an objective, which is the goal you want to achieve, and a couple of key results, which are measurable results or criteria that can help track the success of the goal-achievement process.

An OKR cycle is defined as a set of processes you go through to make an objective, set key results, and achieve them. The quality and effectiveness of your OKR cycle directly translate into how successful the process actually was.

Let’s dive deeper.

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Why do many OKRs fail?

Many organizations follow the OKR goal-setting framework. However, do all of them succeed with it? Unfortunately, no!

Some organizations have humongous aspirations when they introduce OKRs to their employees. The zeal quickly fades off though, when they don’t see the results they had envisioned. Other organizations make a big deal while setting objectives but don’t follow these through and don’t track them until the end. In the OKR retrospective, every step of goal setting and achieving is essential and needs to be monitored. The lack of this is why many such frameworks fail.

According to experts, there can be four failure patterns when it comes to OKR goal setting.

    • You actually set bad OKRs

Now, this is something that most organizations do in the very beginning. The objectives may be unachievable and the key results unrealistic. Some organizations start treating OKRs like they are to-do-lists. Other organizations may give employees too little time to achieve these objectives. In some cases, the objectives may not add any value to the organization or the people there.

Do you see the pattern? A typical OKR cycle includes setting the right OKRs first, for it to work. 

    • Lack of communication/coordination while setting OKRs

Now, this is something that can lead to destructive results and the complete opposite results of what was wanted in the first place. Let’s say two teams are working towards setting OKRs. One team decides to focus on increasing sales, while the other team focuses on creating better work-life balance and improving the mental health of individuals.

Do you see how these two can completely contradict one another? The OKR cycle of both these teams will pull in different directions, leading to a complete breakdown.

    • You don’t follow them through

You could have set extremely well-thought-out objectives and key results. However, if the management and team do not follow these through, they are not going to be of any use. 

    • You set too many OKRs

This is a common problem in companies that are over-enthusiastic. Experts recommend setting 3-5 objectives per team/quarter. If one of the objectives is very complex or time-consuming, you should reduce the number of objectives.

When you set too many targets, the employee’s focus is going to be all over the place, not achieving anything solid.

Here is our blog that gives you practical examples of OKRs. Do check this out for better clarity. 

Setting the perfect OKR cycle at work

How does one set the perfect OKR cycle at work? According to us, the simpler your steps are, the better it is. There are a few reasons behind this.

  • Simplicity means that everyone in the organization understands what to do.
  • It is easier to adopt.
  • You can find problem areas quickly when just a few steps are involved.
  • It is easy to follow them through when the steps are straightforward.

So, here are three simple steps you can follow to set an OKR cycle that is straightforward, easy to adapt, and effective.

1. Create

The first thing to do when you want to create a typical OKR cycle that is successful is to set or create the right objectives and key results. Here are things to keep in mind when you set such OKRs.

  • The objective has to add value to the organization and its people.
  • The results should be able to measure something specific and not turn into a to-do list.
  • The objectives must be achievable in the given period of time. Too simple or too extravagant objectives are better avoided.
  • Your employees should be excited about working towards the objectives. Otherwise, it makes no sense.

2. Align

According to the olden-days OKR retrospective, you start working on achieving the objective once you are done creating a framework. We slightly differ from this approach.

PossibleWorks has worked with many clients, implementing our OKR Performance Management System software in their business. We know how important alignment is as a step in any OKR cycle.

What is alignment? You need to concentrate on two kinds of alignments – vertical and horizontal.

In vertical alignments, individual objectives need to align with the company’s policies. This is something most organizations get right.

Horizontal or cross-team alignments are where most companies slip up. The objectives of different teams need to sync too, for the whole experience to work.

According to experts, you can create the perfect OKR cycle by mapping interdependencies, sharing OKRs across groups prior to working on them, and creating shared OKRs wherever possible. All these take care of the alignment part.

When you find a misalignment somewhere, you might need to go back to the table and rework creating newer/changed objectives. So, these two steps can recur multiple times until you are happy with them.

3. Achieve

This is the last step of creating a simple yet effective OKR cycle. Tracking and monitoring are the heart and soul of this step.

All OKRs are time-bound. It means that you know when they need to be completed.

Therefore, make sure you set weekly/bi-weekly reminders to check the progress, measure the key results, and make tweaks if necessary. Sometimes, employees may be focusing on things that don’t add value and could be wasting their time and effort. By having these check-in sessions, you can guide them towards the right path.

Similarly, you can identify individuals who are slow at working towards the objective and help them with additional resources to hasten their efforts.

You can get more answers about the right ways to implement OKRs with our blog here.


Objectives and Key Results are handy tools to help manage goal setting in any organization. The best part of OKRs is that they can be molded to work in any setup and for all kinds of objectives. The trick is to get the right OKR framework in place.

PossibleWorks’ OKR tool helps align individual goals with company goals, create a well-designed and practical OKR cycle, and offer a platform for regular tracking and performance reviews. If you think you need help with creating, aligning, or reworking your OKR framework, get in touch with us.

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