Written by Pete Wilkinson

Last updated 7 July 2023 ·

OKRs vs. Balanced Scorecards

In today’s dynamic business landscape, organisations strive for clarity, focus, alignment, and accountability when setting and achieving goals. Two popular methodologies that help businesses in this endeavour are OKRs and Objectives and Key Results and Balanced Scorecards. This blog post compares OKRs and Balanced Scorecards, highlighting their key features, benefits, and differences.

OKRs: Fostering Agility and Focus

OKRs are a goal-setting methodology popularised by organisations like Google. and Intel. The primary focus of OKRs lies in driving alignment and agility across the organisation. The process involves setting ambitious objectives and identifying measurable key results to gauge progress. OKRs are typically time-bound, with quarterly or 6-monthly cycles being a common practice. This approach encourages transparency, cross-functional collaboration, and adaptability to changing circumstances.

Balanced Scorecards: Striving for Balanced Performance

Balanced Scorecards provide a comprehensive view of organisational performance by considering multiple perspectives, including financial, customer, internal processes, and learning and growth. This methodology, developed by Robert Kaplan of Harvard University and David Norton, emphasises balancing short-term financial objectives with long-term strategic goals. Balanced Scorecards utilise KPIs, key performance indicators, to measure progress and align the organisation towards a unified vision.

Key Differences

The main contrast between OKRs and Balanced Scorecards lies in their goal creation and measurement approach. The Balanced Scorecard framework relies on a structured strategy map with predefined parameters, focusing on financial, customer, internal processes, and learning and growth aspects. On the other hand, OKRs cascade and ladder, emphasising leading measures and allowing teams to set clear priorities.

The Balanced Scorecard allows more objectives and fewer measures, while OKRs recommend 2-3 objectives and 3-5 key results. The Balanced Scorecard incorporates initiatives, projects, actions or activities that sit alongside the Scorecard and are required to achieve an objective.

OKRs encourage risk-taking as teams and individuals can decide the measurable steps or key results that will lead them to achieve the objectives and hence the vision. Overall, Balanced Scorecard emphasises accountability, while OKRs foster flexibility and autonomy.

Some other top-level differences between these two goal-setting and execution frameworks are as follows:

  1. Focus: OKRs primarily emphasise setting and achieving ambitious goals, driving innovation and growth. On the other hand, Balanced Scorecards focus on measuring and managing performance across various dimensions, ensuring a holistic view of the organisation.

  2. Flexibility: OKRs offer flexibility and adaptability, allowing objectives and key results to be revised and updated as circumstances change. Balanced Scorecards, while also capable of adaptation, tend to have a more predefined approach to goal-setting.

  3. Measurement: OKRs utilise qualitative and quantitative key results to assess progress, providing a clearer understanding of goal attainment. Balanced Scorecards rely on a mix of financial and non-financial KPIs to evaluate performance from different perspectives.

  4. Alignment: OKRs foster alignment and accountability at various levels within an organisation, ensuring that individual and team objectives contribute to the overall strategic goals of the business. Balanced Scorecards promote alignment within organisations by cascading objectives across different organisational levels. However, this can get highly complex when many more objectives are set.


Regarding goal management, both OKRs and Balanced Scorecards offer valuable frameworks for organisations to drive performance and achieve their desired outcomes. OKRs are particularly effective in agile and innovative environments, encouraging focus and flexibility. Balanced Scorecards, on the other hand, provide a more holistic approach, promoting balance and alignment across multiple dimensions.

Ultimately, the choice between OKRs and Balanced Scorecards depends on an organisation’s specific needs, culture, and strategic objectives. Some organisations may find value in combining elements from both methodologies to create a tailored approach that suits their unique circumstances. Regardless of the chosen method, the key to success lies in implementing a goal management system that promotes clarity, alignment, and accountability, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and growth.

Our unique approach to OKRs combines this proven goal-setting framework with our award-winning 1-3-5® planning process resulting in a highly structured system that incorporates many of the features adopted by the Balanced Scorecard framework. Our software creates a centralised view of performance and clearly shows who is responsible for what, enabling accountability, laser-focus and entire team alignment.

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