Reviewing examples of OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) can be an excellent source of inspiration for writing your own. If you’re new to OKRs, we recommend that you start by reading this definition of OKRs. Since OKRs serve a different function from the business metrics most people are familiar with, it can also be helpful to clarify the differences between OKRs vs. KPIs before you begin creating them.
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In this article, we’ll walk through several real-world examples of OKRs to illustrate how you might use this powerful tool to drive innovation in your own organization. As you read through these examples, keep in mind how organizational OKRs might be used to develop them at the team level.
Organizational OKRs can help teams understand explicitly where the company is headed, so they can orient their own work towards that big-picture, long-term vision.
We hope that these examples of OKRs inspire you to create some ambitious plans of your own.
Examples of OKRs at the Company Level
The executives of Company X recently attended a virtual conference where they saw several examples of OKRs being used to measure big-picture, company-wide objectives. Company X is at a crossroads: Although they’ve been a small team for the past two years, providing a niche customer support platform to private medical clinics, they have determined that they needed to make a strategic pivot and set their sights on some “bigger fish:” Larger hospital groups.
Inspired by the examples of OKRs that they saw at the conference, the executives of Company X decided to draft some OKRs of their own to align their team around what needed to be done in the next quarter, and eventually throughout the next year to be ready to meet the demands of their new, larger customers.
The executive team holds a brainstorm session to discuss how to best implement OKRs at Company X. They decide to come up with a few big-picture goals first, and then work with their teams to establish OKRs to achieve those goals. They agree that involving their teams in the process of writing the OKRs will be key to ensuring that they get buy-in and select the right ones.
Each OKR will have an executive “owner,” and the executives will discuss progress on their OKRs at each of their weekly stand-up meetings and review their results at the executive retreat that occurs at the end of each quarter.
Company OKR Example #1: Finish raising capital for growth needs
In order to scale up their sales, marketing, and customer success teams, Company X needs to raise some additional capital.
Sara, the CEO of Company X, decides that she will “own” this OKR, since she has the most experience working with venture capital (VC) firms. Georgina, the CFO, advises Sara that the company will need at least $7 million in additional capital in order to scale up effectively in the next year. Sara wants to set a good example for her team by being ambitious with her OKR, so she decides to reach a little further, and establishes an Objective of securing $10 million in funding.
Sara remembers that during the virtual conference, the speakers stressed the importance of making each Key Result “gradable,” so she makes sure that each of her KRs is quantifiable.
Objective: Secure additional funding within the next year.
- Key Result 1: Reach out to at least 30 VC firms.
- Key Result 2: Set meetings with at least 10 VC firms.
- Key Result 3: Secure at least 5 term sheets with our minimum required terms.
- Key Result 4: Close investment round with $10 million or more.
Each of the Key Results here is measurable, specific, actionable, and verifiable.
At the end of this year-long period, Sara will be able to definitively say whether or not she achieved this OKR, and to what extent.
Company OKR Example #2: Increase recurring revenues in the next year
Alex, the VP of Business Development, knows that increasing Company X’s recurring revenues will help them become more profitable, especially as they secure larger customers. He decides to tackle this challenge as his team’s OKR.
Objective: Increase recurring revenues over the next year.
- Key Result 1: Convert at least 20% of existing monthly subscriptions to annual subscriptions.
- Key Result 2: Reduce churn to less than 2% monthly.
- Key Result 3: Increase average number of seats by 20% for monthly and annual subscriptions.
In this OKR example, the objective is ambitious, qualitative, actionable, and time-bound. Each of the Key Results helps to answer the question, “What will we do to get there?”
Company OKR Example #3: Increase retention rates
Keisha, the VP of Marketing, knows that figuring out what increases retention — and what causes customers to churn — will be critical as Company X grows. She schedules a brainstorming session with the marketing and sales teams to generate some ideas around how to finetune the company’s retention efforts over the next year.
They decide to write their Objective in a way that allows them to focus on both increasing retention and reducing churn, since they know that they have opportunities to do both in the next year.
- Key Result 1: Hold exit interviews with 50 recently churned customers to determine top causes of churn.
- Key Result 2: Host at least 5 focus group sessions with longest-standing customers to determine what encourages retention.
- Key Result 3: Test 3 retention strategies over the next six months.
Examples of OKRs for IT
Janine is the CTO of an online lesson planning tool that has been growing in popularity due to increased demand for virtual learning. Since so many teachers rely on the tool to do their planning, it’s very important to Janine to make sure it is reliable, secure, and actively evolving to meet the needs of their customers.
The company has recently begun using OKRs to drive innovation and create a competitive advantage against other tools in the education tech space. Although they know they have a great tool, they see opportunities to outperform their competition in uptime, privacy / security, and responsiveness.
Janine and other members of the tech strategy group have a meeting to discuss how they can use OKRs to set ambitious goals over the next year for their product. They look online for some examples of OKRs for inspiration, and then get to work on creating their own.
IT OKR Example #1: Increase uptime
IT teams face a variety of challenges unique to their line of work, but OKRs can still be used to set ambitious goals, boost innovation, and increase reliability. This OKR example shows how the team might use OKRs to achieve the ambitious goal of near-perfect availability.
Objective: Achieve maximum uptime over the next three months.
- Key Result 1: Hold retrospective to determine root cause every time we have an outage.
- Key Result 2: Implement synthetic monitoring within the next three months to monitor app performance from the customer’s perspective.
- Key Result 3: Design and communicate a feature release plan by year end to ensure that all necessary parties are informed about upcoming releases before they are set to occur.
Although these Key Results don’t all have defined numeric values like many of the other examples of OKRs we’ve shared, they can still be quantified and verified. For example, to grade the first Key Result, the team could look at how many outages they had over the course of the three-month period, and then check to see how many times they held retrospectives to determine the root cause of those outages. If they did this each time, then they would be able to assign a grade of 100%.
The other two Key Results are also gradable, but in a different way: They can be answered with either a yes or no.
IT OKR Example #2: Improve security
Increasing the security of the platform is another ambitious goal that Janine wants to tackle in the coming year.
Objective: Make the platform the most secure online lesson planning tool on the market.
- Key Result 1: Introduce two-factor authentication for all accounts.
- Key Result 2: Launch secure File Sync and Share service in the next release.
- Key Result 3: Update BYOD policy and communicate policy to clients and end users.
Examples of OKRs for Product
Liang is the Head of Product for an app that educates and guides new parents through their babies’ early childhood. The company has big plans for their app for the next few years, including launching a paid version of their product and adding a registry functionality to begin attracting parents even before their babies are born.
For the Product team, OKRs have been an important part of developing their roadmap and setting and achieving ambitious goals for their product. Each of the Product Managers who work on Liang’s team typically have one to three OKRs that they “own” and report on during the Product team’s weekly standups.
For this next stage of the app’s growth, the team decides to focus on successfully launching the paid version of their product, conducting research to determine the approach for launching their registry functionality, and then designing new navigation around these two product updates.
Here are the OKRs that Liang chooses to pursue:
Objective: Launch paid version of the app’s core product.
- Key Result 1: Roll out alpha test of paid version to 20 active users.
- Key Result 2: Elicit five in-app transactions via new paid experience.
- Key Result 3: Conduct survey of alpha participants and achieve satisfactory rating of 85% or higher.
Objective: Conduct research to determine best approach for registry functionality.
- Key Result 1: Identify top three baby registry sites and conduct competitive intelligence.
- Key Result 2: Send survey to active users and achieve 20% participation rate.
- Key Result 3: Interview five active users regarding their experiences with the baby registries of competing offerings.
Objective: Design new navigation around paid version of product and registry functionality.
- Key Result 1: Launch A/B test of new navigation during beta testing.
- Key Result 2: Elicit five in-app transactions and establish five new registries under the new design.
- Key Result 3: Conduct survey of beta participants and achieve satisfactory rating of 90% or higher regarding new UI / UX.
For each of the Objectives, Liang is careful to select Key Results that are measurable, specific, and actionable. At the end of this execution period, Liang and his team will be able to measure the extent to which they were able to achieve each of their Objectives.
As you can see from these examples of OKRs, OKRs can be used at every level of the organization to set ambitious goals and track progress toward achieving them. We shared examples of OKRs from executives, IT departments, and a product team. But for the biggest impact, OKRs should be used to inspire organization-wide, focused change.
Start by establishing a vision for the organization by creating OKRs for the entire organization. Then, challenge leaders at each level to orient their teams around that vision, by establishing OKRs that roll up to the big picture. Although not every team-level OKR will align perfectly with an organizational OKR, it’s a good idea to seek alignment where possible.