OKRs: How many is too many?

Objectives and Key Results provide an effective way to ensure your employees align themselves with your company vision in everything they do. Uniting multiple teams toward achieving a common goal can be difficult, but setting clear objectives and establishing key results for those objectives facilitates a structured roadmap to motivate informed and impactful decisions.

But how many OKRs is too many? And, how many should you be setting to achieve the greatest results?

How Many Objectives and Key Results Should You Focus On?

While OKRs are a powerful tool, it can be challenging to narrow down all your strategic priorities into concise objectives. If you end up with too many, your focus and effectiveness become diluted, and you end up being spread too thin, simply trying to achieve too much all at once.

When trying to establish the ideal number of OKRs, we like to recall this little piece of productivity wisdom:

In order to achieve more, you need to focus on less.

To make meaningful progress with anything in life requires dedicated attention. There are only a certain number of hours in each day, and spreading ourselves too thin can often lead to us not making any significant progress in any specific direction.

Maximum productivity comes from devoting your time to specific tasks with achievable, realistic (with stretch) goals. In our experience, the optimal number is 3 mission-critical objectives and 5 key results for each of those objectives. This ensures a tight focus, manageable workload, definitive direction and clarity whilst avoiding overwhelm, which can negatively impact productivity.

Why Three Objectives?

Knowing your company’s direction, be that growth, diversification, takeover etc, the overall vision should factor into every business decision you make. While it is easy to simply imagine how you will achieve this in the future, that road to where you want to be must be built one step at a time.

Trying to accomplish too many things all at once is a one-way ticket to burnout but concentrating on specific tasks that align with your company vision is a reliable path to success. Sticking to three mission-critical objectives keeps you focussed enough to progress while also allowing a degree of flexibility for innovation along different paths.

Why Five Key Results?

The next step is to break each objective into five specific action-orientated goals, or key results, which contribute to achieving the objective itself. Your objectives may be quite broad, such as “Generate £25 million in revenue next year”, these five key results provide a step-by-step process, each with measurable milestones which signal a move close to reaching that target.

Keeping to five specific key results makes them impactful and forces you to concentrate on the most critical tasks to achieve the objective. This will also ensure that time is not wasted on unnecessary tasks that may simply be consuming valuable work hours.

Achieve Your OKRs using the award-winning 1-3-5®

Since its inception, our 1-3-5® OKR software has helped businesses around the globe hone their company vision and drive productivity towards achieving long term results. By providing the framework to track progress with measurable key results, you can set strategic priorities and guide the efforts of your workforce with ease.

Find out more about how our software works, or book a 15-minute discovery call to see how the 1-3-5® could supercharge your workflow.

Posted by Pete Wilkinson

Last updated: 21 December 2021

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