Understanding OKRs and using Objectives and Key Results to drive your product
January 25, 2019
January 25, 2019
Product teams often think about goals that they want to accomplish and then align their priorities around the goals to move their product forward. What tends to be missing from this approach is a strong definition of success for the goal you are setting out to achieve. Key results help you better define what success looks like but often we focus on setting a goal or objective and work as hard as we can to achieve it relatively blindly without a common agreement of the classic question, are we there yet?
As a product management, as important as it is to provide a clear vision of where you are going, it is equally important to provide your product team a definition of when we have arrived to that vision. This means that for every goal or objective you define, you should be setting out the key results that correspond to that objective. In order for this approach to be successful here are some tips to help when you adopt the OKR mentality or Objectives and Key Results approach to prioritization.
Set Expectations. In many cases in life, you set goals that you don’t plan to achieve but you want to work hard to get there. This should not really be the case with product management goals. You should be setting goals within your OKRs that are measurable and you know as a team when you achieved it. Expectations should be set that the objectives can be achieved and the key results need to be communicated to everyone on the team and their buy in that they can accomplish the goals.
Measurable. You need to be able to measure your key results. Using general key results are vague and almost impossible to know when you hit them. If you are trying for example to increase conversion, provide a percent or target that you want to hit. If you want to reduce support, provide specific numbers you want to reduce by. Make your key results measurable so that you know as a product team if you accomplished the objective.
Set Priorities using your OKRs. If objectives are set at the top of a business and do not flow down deep into every part of the company there is a problem. Your objectives as a product should align with your objectives as a business and across the organization. As a result, your features for your product that you place on the product roadmap should be traceable back to your objectives and help align to accomplishing a key result. If not, you may be loosing focus as a business.
The process of defining your OKRs or Objectives and Key results is a great way for a team to layout what it is as a business you need to accomplish and clearly define what the end of the effort should look like. This provides teams and product managers the ability to create metrics and other measurements to track progress and ensure they are moving in the same direction as the business and that what you work on aligns with your overall company goals.