The process of setting and defining OKR is the most important part of setting OKR successfully in your startup. Most people might think that once you have decided to use OKR you can just simply set them up and start using them. But that is not entirely true how it works. Instead defining and eventually setting the objectives and key results should be a process of one or two days. You want to make sure that you and your team put a lot of thought into what you will be working on the next quarter.

When to set OKR

OKR need to be set annually and quarterly. See the following illustration for a clearer overview. You will need to set one annual objective and between 2 and 5 objectives per quarter. Those objectives can be made up again of a couple of different key results again the best number would be between 3 and 6.

timeline OKR

Levels of OKR

In startup you have a couple of different levels. You might have one person responsible for the development, one for marketing and one for the business development. So right there you have three different levels. It is important to remember that OKR are set on all levels! You will have a company level towards which everyone is contributing, then you have those sub levels or also called team levels. If you have one person per “team” those levels equal their personal OKR but should you have more team members make sure, that each team has their overall OKR but also each person has again a different set of OKR. Why is this important?
To know that you will be using OKR on so many different levels is essential, not all the OKR levels are the same though. You will not have as many objectives and key results on a company level as you will have on your private or team level.

levels of okr

How to set OKR for your startup

First you will start out setting the company’s OKR, again make sure that you involve as many people as possible to ensure everyone is contributing. Once you have set you company’s OKR it is time to move on to the team levels or right away to the private levels depending on your startups size. Make sure that everyone is aware of each levels OKR.

Transparency is key

You can see that the whole system is meant to be very transparent. So that everyone is aware what the other is working on. But you might wonder now how much transparency is good? Well here comes the clue of OKR. Everyone can see everyone’s Objectives but not necessarily the key results. If you want to be more transparent you can also show everyones key results. But something that will not be shown is the to do’s as everyone can decide for themselves how exactly they plan to achieve their OKR.

Understanding how OKR need to be set in your startup is essential of setting them successfully. To sum up, make sure everyone is involved, make sure that you spend enough time setting up OKR. And be clear that everyone is aware of the companies objectives so they can set their objectives accordingly.

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