The dogs won’t eat it – Choosing OKRs well


The concept of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is deceptively easy.

  • Objectives are ambitious, qualitative and time bound goals of a team. Each objective is typically supported by ~3-4 key results.
  • Key Results are measurable achievements that contribute to those goals. They are business outcomes and typically expressed in terms of adoption, engagement, cost, performance or quality.

An OKR describes both what a team wants to achieve and how it is going to measure its achievement. “We will achieve $Objective as measured by $KeyResult1, $KeyResult2 and $KeyResult3.”

At the same time, coming up with good OKRs is hard. One has to identify the few key metrics that really matter and to commit on outcomes (e.g. growth) rather than output (e.g. launching a new feature). That requires judgement, uncomfortable leaps of faith and a willingness to experiment.

Jeffrey Zeldman tells a great anecdote in the context of Marketing that illustrates what happens if you choose your Key Results badly: The dogs won’t eat it.

The Author

Raging introvert, estimated to be 120% German. Passionate about photography. If Sheldon knocked on my door three times, I'd let him in.