Written by Pete Wilkinson

Last updated 2 December 2022 ·

Setting measurable key results to achieve your objectives: Three actions to complete your OKR planning

Following on from our previous blog in this series entitled How to establish actionable objectives to help you achieve your vision, this article covers the next step in the OKR process: creating measurable key results.

Key results refer to how you will achieve each of your objectives. Key results must include a specific, measurable number so it is easy to identify whether it has been completed at the end of the OKR cycle. There is no grey area.

Key results are part of the OKR planning process that directs the day-to-day work required to achieve each objective. Our award-winning 1-3-5® OKR structure requires one centralised vision broken down into three mission-critical objectives, which are then broken down further into five key results per objective.

Key results need to be action-orientated so that almost by default when you complete them, you automatically achieve your objectives.

Three actions to complete your OKR planning

Action One

Consider one of your objectives at a time and brainstorm or plan out the work required to achieve the results that would impact that objective. For example, if one of your objectives is to enhance website performance by 20%, or to enhance your online presence and performance significantly, then carefully consider what work outcomes are required to make this happen.

Do this for each of your three mission-critical objectives, so you get everything written down and feel confident knowing you have understood exactly how you can make an impact and what work constitutes a positive outcome.

Action Two

Once again, take one objective at a time and prioritise all the work outcomes you listed in step one. Then for each one, ask yourself - how big of an impact will this have on the overall objective? Also, consider whether each outcome or result is achievable in the set timeframe. OKR cycles can be set for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months, so the time required to achieve each incremental outcome must also be considered. Once you have this prioritised list, narrow it down to 4 or 5 results per objective and make sure they all include a measurable number to be achieved. For example, increase social media activity by 30%, regularly posting on the company page and encouraging more employee-led social engagement. For further OKR examples, check out our comprehensive guide entitled OKR examples to visualise this goal-setting framework in action.

Action Three

Consider setting a stretch goal as one of your key results. This is a great way to focus your mind and go the extra mile to achieve outstanding results. A stretch goal tests your ambition and determination. When you reach a stretch goal, it demonstrates a quantum shift in performance. I like to set my stretch goals at 90-day intervals.

So think about what exceptional results you could achieve in 90 days that would significantly impact your vision and objectives previously created. Once you have set this stretch goal, record it on your phone, write it down, and keep it close by so you can refer back to it often to keep up your momentum and motivation.

By now, you should have:

  • Established five action-orientated, measurable key results per objective that will signify success and achievement of that objective once completed.
  • Set a 90-day stretch goal to help you go the extra mile in your business.

Final thought

As OKRs cascade throughout other departments or business units, key results will be used to create further OKR plans informing the direction of work, especially for frontline team members. Therefore, they must be specific, measurable, achievable (with stretch) and easy to understand to be most effective. Remember, if you implement OKRs in your business, you must share these objectives and key results amongst all necessary teams and individuals.

If you want further guidance on writing OKRs for the different levels within your business, download our OKR Builder™ today! It includes step-by-step advice on how to write compelling OKRs that cascade seamlessly throughout all levels of a business.

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