What do Google, LinkedIn and Zynga have in common? Yes, they're all massive players in Silicon Valley, but these juggernauts also all use one management method that helps set and communicate goals with ease: OKRs, Objectives and Key Results.
This secret sauce is the driving force that moves teams together in the right direction by connecting company, team and personal objectives with measurable results. OKRs consist of a list of objectives and under each objective 3-4 key measurable results with scores of 0 to 1.0, showing its achievement.
This technique dates back to 1970’s, when it was first implemented by the President of Intel, Andy Grove. But it’s Google that brought it enormous attention, and currently, it’s spreading like a wildfire to many companies.
The success of this technique is admirable. It has helped the massive Google community work together and keep the company on track. It has helped the Zynga team defeat the competitor and become the #1 iOS poker game. OKRs have also helped the LinkedIn management team stay focused and propel itself to a $20 billion company. Furthermore, it has helped numerous smaller teams hold the company together in a stage of great growth.
Whether measuring annually and quarterly, like Google does, or choosing another time frame, it’s important to remember that:
- Objectives should be measurable, focused and worth your while.
- You should have around 4-6 OKRs per quarter (having more than that, might get you fired from Google).
- Keep the evaluation process simple, rather focusing on goal setting instead. Aim for an OKR grade of 0.6 – 0.7. If you've gotten a 1, then you've created it too simple. If you get under 0.4, then you're doing something wrong.
- Keep the OKRs public to get an overview what everyone’s working on. Even Larry Page shares his OKRs in Google.
With these systems in place, you get a short list of objectives to work against, which increases focus and helps you hit the mark. Due to the popularity of this management method, there are many great tools that help automate the OKR process in your company. Saving you time and providing a clear overview of everyone’s progress.
If you’re looking for software that helps align your team to work towards objectives, I’d suggest you to take a look at:
Disclaimer: I'm on the Weekdone team.
Weekdone is a weekly progress reporting tool for managers and an internal communications platform for employees. It connects the PPP technique for recurring status reporting with OKRs. On a weekly basis, employees fill out their reports by writing down the week’s biggest achievements, plans for the next week and any challenges they’re facing. This gives a great overview how the team is progressing towards the objectives and whether they’re focusing on the right activities.
Mobile app: iOS app, Android app
Price: Free for up to 3 people, for bigger teams a free trial then $5 per person/month
Integrations: Basecamp, Asana, Atlassian JIRA, Zapier
StatusPath is online software that integrates employee objectives with each employee’s daily, weekly or monthly status updates. Their product philosophy puts the OKRs at the center of the status reports. Employees submit updates on key objectives and projects on a regular basis. They write status report updating on the items that matter most.
Mobile: iOS & Android mobile compatible
Price: Free trial, $ 49/month for first 10 people, $5/month for additional people
Integrations: Salesforce Platform™, Microsoft Exchange Server, and Google Gmail.
7Geese is a social performance tool for continuous feedback, coaching, recognition and goal tracking. The key features for companies are objective tracking and cascading. They’ve made objectives social, with an option to keep some goals private. People can share the actions they have taken and the progress they have made towards objectives with their coworkers. In addition they have an objective explorer to filter and drill down various objectives across teams, individuals and entire company.
Mobile app: 7geese iOS app; 7geese Android app
Price: Free trial/demo, $10 per user/month
Integrations: Single Sign-on, Chrome + Safari Extensions, API access
BetterWorks is an enterprise goals platform that is based on Goal Science™ thinking. They combine it with analytics and mobile technologies to provide a way to set goals, track progress and keep others aware. BetterWorks crafts web-based service big companies can use to store employees’ goals and measure their progress.
Mobile app: BetterWorks iOS app
TalentCove operationalizes OKR and goal-setting methodologies. Employees and teams set goals. Managers can also assign goals, but team members share progress on goals and everyone gets automated weekly reports. It’s a tool for managers to drive measurable results and for teams to meet their goals.
Mobile app: TalentCove iOS app
Price: Free for up to 10 users, free trial after which $5 per user/month
Kapta is an Enterprise Goal Management and OKR tracking platform. It allows you to align all work to the strategic goals of the company. You can define your goals for the year (or half, or quarter); and at the end of the period, you’ll be able to rate the results by entering a score and a comment for each OKR. Notes are stored and can be reviewed at any time.
OKRs are used in various companies across different industries. It really suits everyone. It’s a simple method to set and track your objectives on a personal, team and organizational level. To get started now, try one of these applications that help you implement the system with ease.