The word "change" in neon expresses what are OKRs

What Are OKRs and How To Use Them To Grow in 2022

Summary: What are OKRs? In this post, we’ll teach you the basics of the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) framework and show you how TextExpander can help you achieve milestones for increased efficiency and productivity.

What are your 2-3 goals for the first quarter of 2022? More importantly, what will you do in order to achieve them?

Clarifying your goals and how you’ll get there matters for two reasons:

First, the alternative—not knowing what to do next—is scary and disempowering. Second, setting goals without figuring out how you’re going to achieve them makes it less likely that you will achieve them.

But how do you set the right goals? And how do you know you’re making progress towards them? 

Companies like Microsoft, Google, Netflix, Uber, Twitter, and LinkedIn use a simple but effective method. It’s called the Objective Key Results (OKR) framework, and it can be used by individuals, teams, and organizations to create meaningful change.

In this article, we answer the question “what are OKRs?” and explain how TextExpander helps organizations achieve their goals of becoming more efficient and productive.

What are OKRs?

OKR stands for Objective and Key Results. Essentially, OKRs are a goal-setting system, but some also see it as a management methodology and a leadership tool.

Manager exploring what are OKRs to manage a team.

For John Doerr, who wrote the definitive book on OKRs, OKRs are a mindset. “OKRs allow you to approach the dark void of ‘What do we do next?’ with confidence,” he wrote.

Individuals, teams, and companies use OKRs to set meaningful and audacious goals and get clear on what they need to do to get there.

The OKR “formula” or what are OKRs

They do this using the OKR “formula”, which consists of one short-term Objective (O) and 3-5 Key Results (KRs).

OKR = O + KR1, KR2, KR3…

An Objective is something to achieve in the next 30 to 90 days; a Key Result is a specific and measurable milestone towards making it happen. 

Here’s an example from of an OKR written as a statement:

“I will fix the website for the vast majority of people (O) as measured by 7 out of 10 people being able to get through (KR1), a 1 second response time (KR2), and a 1% error rate (KR3).”

Why are OKRs important?

There are many benefits to using the OKR framework, and they can be summarized by the acronym F.A.C.T.S., where:

  • F stands for Focus – OKRs help individuals and teams channel their time and energy into accomplishing a few essential goals
  • A stands for Alignment – OKRs are a way to get all teams working towards the same top-level priorities
  • C stands for Commitment – OKRs inspire a collective commitment to meeting goals
  • T stands for Tracking – OKRs help individuals and teams track their progress and make adjustments as needed
  • S stands for Stretching – OKRs inspire and empower individuals and teams to leave their comfort zones and accomplish more

How to create OKRs 

Here are the three steps for creating OKRs for yourself, your team, or your organization.

Set your Objective (O)

Your Objective is your “what”—it describes what you want to do and sets a deadline for achieving it.

To set one or more Objectives, think of what your top priorities are for the next three months. It can be helpful to ask:

  • What are the most important things I need to get done?
  • What do I need to start doing? What do I need to change?
  • What does success look like?

You may come up with too many Objectives when you first start brainstorming. That’s normal. Ideally, you’ll want to settle on 1-3 effective Objectives per cycle (30-90 days). To know if your OKR is effective, ask yourself:

  • Is my Objective meaningful? A meaningful objective represents a top priority and gives you a clear direction.
  • Is it audacious?  A bold objective takes what you do to the next level, kickstarting real change.
  • Is it inspiring? An inspiring objective is memorable and empowering.

If your Objectives meet the criteria above, then you’re ready to establish your Key Results.

Set your Key Results (KRs)

Your Key Results are stepping stones for achieving your Objective. To figure out what your Key Results should be, it can be helpful to ask this question:

What three to five things would need to be true in the next 90 days for my Objective to be accomplished?

The items on your list are your Key Results. Before settling on any one of them, ask the following questions:

  • Is my KR specific enough? Key Results need to say what needs to happen and by when.
  • Is it ambitious, but still realistic? You’ll want them to be aspirational but achievable. 
  • Can I measure it? Key Results need to provide a clear criteria for success.

Track and grade your OKRs

You’ll need to track your OKRs and grade them at the end of each cycle. There are different ways to do this.

Andy Grove, the person credited with developing the OKR method, used a simple method for grading: at the end of each cycle, he would ask of each Objective, Did I meet it? Yes or no?

Other companies use different grading systems.

A common one is to ask the same question but have Red, Yellow, and Green as possible answers, with Red meaning missed, Yellow meaning progress, and Green meaning that the goal was met.

Another is to use a percentage scale (from 0.0 to 1.0) to grade each Key Result.

Incorporating TextExpander into your OKRs

If your OKRs have to do with becoming more efficient and productive, TextExpander can help.

When software company WooThemes set the Objective of delivering exceptional support to customers, it knew implementing TextExpander was the way to get there.

Two employees discovering what are OKRs

How WooThemes did it

They set two Key Results: 1) Create essential TextExpander snippets (1,200 in total) and 2) Roll out TextExpander to 25% of the company.

In three months, WooThemes hit those milestones, and consequently, achieved their Objective. Through TextExpander, they were able to send better responses, faster, which made customers happier.

Using shared TextExpander snippets helped WooTheme’s support team increase their productivity and save a total of 693 hours, or 86 workdays.

Similarly, TextExpander helps individuals, teams, and companies in industries as diverse as sales, recruiting, software development, and legal reach ambitious goals through increased efficiency and productivity.

For customer support teams specifically, TextExpander is an indispensable tool for hitting Key Results that have to do with improving metrics such as first response time, resolution time, and average reply time. 

We’ve answered What are OKRs?

Now you’re all set to join us and other great companies in setting OKRs for the cycle ahead.

Setting bold and exciting goals, and establishing the benchmarks for getting there, is something we do here at Smile and highly recommend.

And if your OKRs have to do with increased efficiency and productivity, consider using TextExpander to accomplish your mission. It’s what WooThemes did with great success.

To learn more about how TextExpander helped WooThemes accomplish a high-priority Objective, read the case study.