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OKRs: Why You Should Strive for 70% of Goals

Achieving 70% of goal.

Sounds a little lackluster, right?

Not if you’re setting your objectives and key results, otherwise known as your OKRs, in the right way.

We’re breaking down the importance of committed and aspirational OKRs, as each side plays a major role in measuring your team’s performance, and how they can empower your team to think and work creatively too.

What is an OKR?

For team members who have never heard of the term OKRs before, here’s everything they need to know.

The term OKRs was introduced to Google by John Doerr, who outlined them in his book Measure What Matters – a recommendation for team members who want to really dive in Since catching on at Google, OKRs have been taken up by other tech giants, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Gett, Uber, and Microsoft. Now they are becoming mainstream at businesses across all industries. One “Objective” is set, with three to five “Key Results” that are the outcomes that will make that objective happen, and give clarity on whether the objective was successfully achieved.

Break Down Your OKRs Into “Committed” and “Aspirational”

What are committed OKRs?

Committed OKRs can be measured quantifiably – to the point where deciding if you’ve met them is a “yes” or “no” answer.

The goal with these is that they are met 100%, so sales is a great area to find committed OKR examples. One of this quarter’s OKRs could be to increase revenue by 20%, where all you need to do is look at the numbers to know if the objective has been reached. Put simply: we “commit” to hitting the goal, and if we don’t get there, we’ve failed.

You can find multiple examples of sales OKRs here, but our favorite one to explain the idea to your team is:

Objective: Speed up our sales cycle from eight months to six months by the beginning of the third quarter.

Key Results:

  • Decrease the time taken from the first call to demo by 40%
  • Decrease the time taken from the demo phase to closing by 35%
  • Improve our sales process by implementing monthly training sessions

Note that this OKR contains a shorter-term objective – “from eight months to six months” – and a fixed deadline, giving it an accessible angle for your team. It’s not about pivoting your business or team structure, but about enhancing existing processes within a defined and realistic timeframe.

Committed OKRs are popular because they help businesses to forecast revenue – and are quick to understand and measure – but they’re not the only kind of OKRs to introduce to your team.

In short: committed OKRs are specific, accessible, and aim to expand what your operations are already.

A laptop with graphs showing revenue rising

What are aspirational OKRs?

Aspirational OKRs are big-picture goals that go beyond increasing one quarter’s revenue. They should include involvement from every member of your team to make the cut and are intentionally high risk. They’re there to innovate and inspire, often with the goal to answer big questions that will help steer the wheel of your business, rather than give your organization a new lick of paint.

As a sales OKR example:

Objective: transition from working with $100k – $500k businesses to $1m+

Key Results:

  • Hire an experienced research team to look at the needs of clients in that new turnover bracket
  • Retrain your sales team to be capable of working in a higher income market
  • Transition away smaller clients so that most of your client roster is in your updated target demographic

Aspirational OKRs answer the big questions, are intended to inspire and tend to be part of a team- or company-wide transformation.

Being ambitious is central to setting aspirational OKRs, and that’s where the 70% comes in.

Aim to stretch, not to simply succeed

Aspirational goals are more common the higher you go in a business’ leadership, but there’s no reason their energy has no place in your team’s OKRs, even if you feel that major transformation isn’t what’s going to have the most impact right now.

Although you might be in the process of setting objectives that lie on the “committed” side of the spectrum, there’s no reason not to encourage that sense of “stretching” while you work on smaller scale or shorter-term goals.

James Clear has written previously about the “Goldilocks Rule” for motivation, and OKRs are a vital example of where to ensure teams have goals sitting in the sweet spot of feeling possible, but posing a good challenge. Why not let your team know that there’s wiggle room for how they get there and encourage them to think creatively and take calculated risks?

Instead of 100% success, set OKRs that have the target of 70%. Striving for 70% will feel less high stakes, a pivot that lets your team have breathing space to flex their creativity, and lets their motivation soar.

Yellow post-it notes lined up on a wall. A hand is in the process of putting another one up

Summary

  • Committed OKRs are always tangible and accessible
  • Aspirational OKRs are big-picture and transformational
  • Switching your expectations from 100% to 70% gives teams confidence and motivation to stretch what they feel they can do

If you’re ready for more ways to inspire your team, start here:

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