OKR best practices for startups

Realize the full potential of the OKRs for your Startup with this guide. Learn the best practices for setting the OKRs, right now.

All organizations, big or small, set goals for themselves and engage their workforce as per those goals. This simple, yet foundational, principle of goal setting has been researched extensively and over the years many different methodologies have been invented to optimize this goal-setting process. But if there is one methodology that has stood the tests of time and has proved itself suitable to organizations of all sizes and domains, it is – the OKR framework.

But what are OKRs, exactly?

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is an innovative goal-setting framework, invented by Andrew Grove and later popularised by John Doerr through his book titled “Measure what matters.” OKRs consist of two parts – Objectives and Key Results. The objectives are the major goals that you want your startup to achieve in any quarter (or even a month). The key results are defined under each of the objectives, and these are the actionable and measurable steps that can be taken to complete that objective. Ideally, an objective should be clear, concise, and inspirational i.e. those that push your team’s limits. And the key results should be specific, measurable, and relevant.

Why OKRs are ideal for startups?

The initial years of any startup or small business tend to be turbulent. The work is dynamic, deadlines are sporadic, and there is a constant need for prioritizing and rescheduling tasks. In such a scenario, OKRs (Objectives and Key results) can provide much-needed clarity on the purpose and progress of the startup. OKRs for startups or small businesses can help them to find their most important goals and to design a clear stepwise plan to achieve those objectives. They can also facilitate coordination among the team members and enable better resource utilization.

OKR best practices for startups

The most crucial aspect that determines the success of OKRs for startups is the way you apply them to your work. OKRs were made to keep the organizations focused and on track towards the goals that matter. So, the biggest factor is to define the objectives that are truly going to make an impact. Following are some of the best practices for OKRs that will guide you on how to implement OKRs for startups or small businesses –

  1. Focus on your priorities – There are so many things in a startup that can be worked on and improved upon. But leaders should choose those objectives that have the potential to have the biggest impact. Objectives such as revenue growth, building the brand, or increasing the reach are some of the good places to start with. Referring to your startup’s vision and mission statements, time and again, can also help you in course correcting your strategy.
  2. Combine the SMART principle – Key results closely resemble the SMART methodology of goals-setting. Keep your key results specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. If a key result is not clear or not measurable over a metric, then it should be remolded or done away with altogether. Although, its good to keep your OKRs ambitious it’s also important to keep them realistic. So, be mindful of their achievability. For keeping the relevancy, ensure that the key results under any objective are such defined that their combined completion should lead to accomplishment of their objective. Don’t treat your objectives as mere classification containers for grouping your key results. Lastly, the time-boundedness is already weaved into the OKRs setup.
  3. Be collaborative – At the initial stage leaders of your organization may take a top-down approach to set the objectives. But over time, through feedback and team reviews, you should be able to involve all the people in the hierarchy. Such holistic participation will not only spark camaraderie between your team members but will also give them a shared goal to strive for. Sometimes a bottom-up approach works even better because it helps in correctly assessing the capabilities and effort required for achieving your objectives.
  4. Mind the duration – OKRs for startups should be written with a short duration in mind – ranging from a month to a quarter. Setting short-term OKRs will help you to remain flexible and adapt to the changing scenarios. Besides being focused, short-term OKRs also provide a constant boost in motivation when your team sees them getting finished, month after month. Also, for each objective just 2-4 key results should be defined. A lot of key results defined under an objective means that either the objective is too broad and needs splitting or your key results are yet not prioritised.

Do you need a tool for setting the OKRs?

Although OKRs can be written down in a simple word processor, in a spreadsheet, or even with a pen on paper, the true value of OKRs will not be realized if you are just writing and storing them away for reference. The true value of OKRs will be realized when you will be regularly tracking and updating the progress of your key results with the intention to correct the direction and expedite the progress of your project.

Hence, to realize the true potential of OKRs, we have created Witsmate. Witsmate helps you embrace the OKR goal-setting framework in its truest form. Through Witsmate you can write, track, and complete your OKRs in a collaborative manner with all your team members.

Not only that, you can also tag your KRs with your company KPIs, align your OKRs with specific tasks and projects, and also derive insights for predicting and estimating the completion time. Witsmate can be easily integrated with third-party office apps like Slack and MS Teams. Further, the pricing structure of Witsmate makes it the best OKR tool for startups. Its simple and affordable per-user pricing makes sense for a startup that has a low employee count.

Concluding remarks –

The OKR framework is the single most effective strategy to impart direction to your startup and maximize its productivity. Successful implementation of OKRs depends a lot on how well you understand its underlying operating principle. We hope the concepts discussed above will enable you to adopt OKRs for a startup effectively. The mode of integration of OKRs also plays a huge role in its implementation. Hence using a sophisticated tool like Witsmate can ease your way towards the adoption of OKRs and ensure their success for your startup.