The entrepreneurial scene talks more and more about objectives and key results or also known as OKR. Although objectives and key results are not as new as some people might think, this OKR approach of structuring targets in a company has become more and more popular recently. OKR’s were invented by Intel in the 1990’s and already in use since then. John Doerr made this approach public. Since then many well known companies have introduced objectives and key results in their companies. The questions remains: what exactly are OKR’s?

The short answer

Objectives are what your company wants to achieve and Key Results are the steps taken to reach the targeted objective.

Makes sense right? But if that’s the case, what is the drama around it and how is it different from commonly used target setting methods?

#1 Understand the human psychology

Our brains are wired to receive and process as much information as possible. Compared to a computer our brains are capable of processing many thoughts at the same time. Our mind is divided in two part the conscious and the subconscious mind. Our conscious mind is processing all the data we receive as an input for example something you just read, while the subconscious mind is comparing that received information at the same time to all the knowledge we already know. This results in that we have more than 3000 thoughts per hour. And all those thoughts do not necessarily have to be related. Keeping this piece of information in the back of heads we might understand why we have so many unproductive hours at work and why we get distracted so many times.

#2 Understand the meaning of a goal

When you are talking about objectives and key results many people will tell you that OKR’s are nothing else but simple goals. This is not entirely true! Although you will see that the word ‘objective’ is listed as a synonym for the word ‘goal’ but also this fact needs to be regarded with care.

Most of us will set many or at least one goal in our life. Usually we set goals concerning our careers, our family life and private hobbies. Knowing those facts you will see that all those ambitions are emotionally related. We build up emotions with our families, hobbies and careers hence our goal setting is very emotional, subjective and not objective!

#3 The true nature of Objectives

Like the word indicates objectives are meant to objective, this way of setting priorities and targets is supposed to be made without the influence of too many emotions but build up on a rational basis. Objectives are indicators where you and your company wants to be in the foreseeable future. This factor is very important, objectives are not set too far in the future but rather established to control the close upcoming times.

#4 Key Results as a roadmap

Key Results are basically the steps that need to be taken to achieve the Objective. But also pay caution here. Key results are not plain simple steps but also like the word indicates results that need to be achieved on the way. The psychological factor of such little results on the way is immense. As we are naturally build to love rewards those key results which are little achievements on the road actually help boosting your confidence, which again results in a more productive working style.

Following those four points we now understand a little bit clearer what exactly objectives and key results are. It is a more directed and controlled way to lead your company to success.

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