Last updated 21 January 2022 ·
The most effective way to implement Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) in any business is to start at the top. The business leader, whether that’s the CEO, founder, or board of directors, are the ones that ultimately decide the overall vision and direction of the business. Whatever they set at the top then cascades throughout all teams, so these top-level OKRs must be clear, exciting, easy to understand, memorable, and align with the overall vision and purpose of the organisation.
Furthermore, the business leader’s job is to understand the true scale and capabilities of their business resources and identify ways they can be most productive within their market. Once this has been recognised, they then establish the strategic priorities for the business. As OKRs cascade, this provides a means of effectively communicating the strategic priorities to all teams and ultimately influencing where each member of the business needs to focus their efforts to make an impact.
Establish a solid structure
The award-winning 1-3-5® business planning methodology provides a clear structure and perfectly aligns with the OKR goal-setting framework. The 1 in a 1-3-5® is the overall vision for the business. This should be clear, easy to understand and inspiring as it is shared widely with the entire organisation. This vision is usually centred around business growth or dominance in the market.
The 3 in a 1-3-5® refers to 3 mission-critical objectives that will ultimately achieve the vision. At the top leadership level, these objectives usually cover the key areas of Strategy, Operations and People.
The 5 in a 1-3-5® refers to 5 key results per objective, representing progress towards achieving the related objective. These key results should be specific, measurable, and timely so they can unarguably tell instantly whether you are winning and moving closer to achieving your objectives or not.
Leadership OKR examples
To inspire you to create your own leadership level OKRs, we have included some examples below. We recommend writing the vision and the objectives as if they have already been achieved.
CEO Level OKRs:
1 x Vision
“We have successfully achieved 40% business growth year on year and expanded the team by opening two new divisions. Our market share has increased significantly, and our brand signifies a highly reputable place to work. Our employees feel proud, loyal and are regularly challenged to reach their full potential.”
3 x Objectives:
- Strategy: Our robust business strategy has delivered 40% growth and our profit target of 15%.
- Operations: Our NPS is now above 75, and we have successfully expanded our operations into two new offices.
- People: We have increased employee performance and engagement to enhance productivity and successfully grown the team by 15%.
5 x Key Results, per objective:
Objective 1: Our robust business strategy has delivered 40% growth and our profit target of 15%.*
5 x Key Results:
- Solidify three new strategic partnership deals, each bringing in £100,000 in sales.
- Increase outbound sales activity by 50%.
- Attend ten industry events, each generating >100 leads for follow-up.
- Establish a customer referral programme generating 50 new customers per month.
- Marketing strategy is performing to target generating 200 MQLs per month.
Objective 2: Our NPS is now above 75, and we have successfully expanded our operations into two new offices.
5 x Key Results:
- Establish and implement an effective office growth expansion strategy.
- Further develop the customer success team to improve overall customer satisfaction by 20%.
- Improve the NPS response rate by 40% with a score of 75 or above.
- Identify suitable office locations and lease opportunities.
- Appoint 2 x office managers to support the development of each.
Objective 3: We have increased employee performance and engagement to enhance productivity and successfully grown the team by 15%.
5 x Key Results:
- Effectively communicate the business vision so each employee keeps it front-of-mind at all times and knows exactly how their hard work can make an impact.
- Reduce staff absence by 20%.
- Create training and development plans for all employees.
- Get listed in the Sunday Times top 100 places to work.
- Implement a finders fee/incentive for successful new hires.
How does this then cascade?
The cascading nature of this 1-3-5® OKR structure would mean that the Head of Sales then takes responsibility for the specific sales-related key results within Objective 1. They would take this section of the plan and build out their own 1-3-5® OKR plan, including all sales relevant details and expand it into further objectives and key results. Visit our blog for more OKR examples to help you get started.
If this all sounds slightly overwhelming at first when you’ve already got a massive to-do list, check out our leadership lessons blog on how to get things done when you’re a strategic thinker.
If you would like some help writing compelling OKRs that cascade effectively throughout your business, we created a free downloadable workbook entitled The OKR Builder™, which includes step-by-step instructions and real-life examples and tips on how to implement OKRs and keep the momentum going in your business.
If you have any questions about setting OKRs at any level, please get in touch by emailing our in-house OKR guru, Pete Wilkinson, firstname.lastname@example.org.