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How to Set Effective and Meaningful Goals for Your Team The OKR methodology is the best bet

By Andrew Barnes

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We'll be closing another quarter in a few weeks and that presents a chance to do things differently with your team. If you look back over previous quarters or indeed in 2018, how many of the goals set were actually achieved?

If the answer is "not many" or "nothing that mattered", perhaps it's time to start thinking about how to make goal setting more effective and meaningful. The OKR methodology (Objectives and Key Results) provides an approach for aligning goals with what really matters in the growth and success of a business and its people.

Not Such a New Idea

The OKR methodology has its earliest origins in the Management by Objectives framework developed by Peter Drucker in 1954.

In 1968, Andy Grove (co-founder of Intel) used the principles of Management by Objectives as the basis for developing OKRs as used today. However, it was John Doerr who popularized OKRs and took the methodology mainstream in 2017 through his book, Measure What Matters.

Doerr was an employee at Intel and learned the methodology during his time working there. He introduced OKRs to Google's founders, who implemented OKRs at their offices where it is still used today.

It's All in the Doing

What does it take to actually use OKRs to set effective and meaningful goals for your team?

For setting Objectives, describe where you want to go and set a clear direction. For example, "Grow our market coverage".

The Key Results are then measurements that show how you're progressing towards your Objective. For example, one KR to accompany the above O could be, "Go to market plan for the USA adopted by the Board".

Good OKRs are achievable, aspirational and measurable. There are now even platforms for managing and tracking OKRs within a company, such as Workboard and Perdoo.

It's better to have less, more meaningful OKRs. This creates greater clarity on what is really important and helps reduce having focus pulled across many directions. Businesses thrive when there are less unnecessary distractions.

Making OKRs Personal

The good news is OKRs aren't just for professional goals. The framework is also useful for setting personal OKRs, such as learning a new language and getting fit. Incorporating personal goals into the work context helps keep team members connected to other focus areas, and therefore, more likely to achieve both their work and personal goals.

OKRs put a different spin on setting and tracking goals that really matter and can be a useful tool in setting up your people and your business for success. But when it comes to making actual progress, the most important thing of all is to simply get started.

Andrew Barnes

Co-founder and CEO of GO1.com


Andrew Barnes is the co-founder and CEO of GO1.com, a Y Combinator alumni and one of the world’s largest onboarding, compliance, and professional development platforms. He is a Rhodes Scholar, has a Masters in Science and Education from Oxford University, and a PhD in Business Strategy from Queensland University.


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