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Planning Resources

OKR Best Practices

Struggling to decide what framework to use for your next strategic plan? The OKR model is a lightweight, approachable way to get everyone on your team thinking about your biggest goals and building a roadmap for accomplishing them.

Our team has served as a strategic planning partner for more than 50 organizations, and we often use the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) model in these settings. Developed by Intel in the 1980s and embraced by some of the world's most successful companies, the OKR model relies on an intuitive blend of inspirational goal-setting and specific, tangible benchmarking.

Ready to dive in? Consider these seven best practices from Andy Grove, architect of the OKR model at Intel, as you think about the kinds of OKRs your team will focus on next.

1. Less is more

The emphasis should be on a few objectives(say, 3-5), with a similar number of key results per objective.

2. Set goals from the bottom up

The people closest to the work should drive the conversation about how improvement in their area can move the organization forward.

3. No dictating

Goals should not be handed down from a single voice without consideration of others and their needs.

4. Stay flexible

Objectives and key results should change if or when conditions drastically change.

5. Dare to fail

Objectives should be daring, stretching the team and pushing them to think bigger.

6. A tool, not a weapon

OKRs shouldn't be used to crush organizational initiatives or unduly limit good progress. Rather, they exist as a guidepost, ruler, and/or map.

7. Be patient and resolute

Goals shouldn't be so achievable that we accomplish them swiftly. Focus on incremental but important progress over time.

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