A guest post from Nick Yushkov from Atiim software.

If you’re familiar with OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), you already know that they’re a powerful goal-setting tool that allows busy organizations to align priorities and achieve optimal results. (And if you don’t know about the OKR process yet, I suggest visiting our resources here to quickly familiarize yourself).

Despite already having much knowledge about the best practices and tips of how to use OKRs, many managers and executives still want to see them being used in action. And, at this point in time, there are very few companies that are sharing the precise actions they take to implement OKR goal setting from start to finish. Learn more about success with Objectives and Key Results here.

While the process may vary depending on the size, age, and culture of the company, for the most part, the basics of the OKR process are similar for most organizations: in order to structure the OKR process successfully, you must start with a strong foundation. And, for many managers and execs, the biggest question becomes: how can we connect different Objectives and Key Results in a way that they cascade both upwards and downwards, as well as across the organization?

We’ll show you. Here, we take a step-by-step approach to show you how one fictitious company (let’s call it ACME Company) might set OKR goals for their organization so you can see first-hand how this strategic process can be used most effectively.

Before we begin, let’s do a quick review of some important terms that we’ll be using throughout this example:

  • Goal: The technical definition of a goal is an aspiration that is to be accomplished within a timeframe that extends beyond the period of one year; but oftentimes, this word is used interchangeably with “objectives”
  • Objective (O): Part of OKRs; the thing that must be accomplished which should be quantifiable, specific, and time-bound
  • Key Results (KRs): Part of OKRs; the steps required in order to accomplish the objective which must be quantifiable, specific, and time-bound
  • Milestone: An action or event which, when completed, signifies a change in the stage or development of a goal or objective
  • Task: A piece of work that must be completed to support the accomplishment of a KR
  • Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get a little more information on our organization, ACME Company:

ACME Company

CEO: Mr. Aaron.

❱ His Objective: Grow the business.

As you can see, this is a company-level goal. Because we are dealing with the company in its entirety, the objective is very broad. To make sure that it becomes measurable and thus achievable, Mr. Aaron will need to include tangible metrics in his KRs:

❱ KR1: Strengthen marketing department by increasing MQLs by 5% through next quarter.

❱ KR2: Achieve 10% growth by the end of Q1.

❱ KR3: Grow sales team by 15% by the end of Q1.

Now, in addition to Mr. Aron, there are additional executives who may also have objectives of their own. Let’s take a look.

❱ ❱ His Objective: Get 600 MQLs.

As you can see, the CEO’s KR1 (Strengthen marketing department by increasing MQLs by 5% through next quarter) contributes to this objective. Now, Mr. Smith can also set his own KRs:

❱ ❱ KR1: Get 200 MQLs from AdWords by Feb 24.

❱ ❱ KR2: Get 200 MQLs from mass mail sending by Jan 30.

❱ ❱ KR3: Come up with 3 strategies for improving SEO by Jan 15.

Then, the Mr. Smith’s KR1 might contribute to the Objective of a PPC Marketing Manager: Improve AdWords campaign. The PPC Marketing Manager’s KRs might then look like this:

❱ ❱ ❱ KR1: Get 150 MQLs via AdWords search by Feb 10.

❱ ❱ ❱ KR2: Get 50 MQLs via CMD by Jan 15.

If you’re familiar with OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), you already know that they’re a powerful goal-setting tool that allows busy organizations to align priorities and achieve optimal results. (And if you don’t know about the OKR process yet, I suggest visiting our resources here to quickly familiarize yourself).

Despite already having much knowledge about the best practices and tips of how to use OKRs, many managers and executives still want to see them being used in action. And, at this point in time, there are very few companies that are sharing the precise actions they take to implement OKR goal setting from start to finish. Learn more about success with Objectives and Key Results here.

While the process may vary depending on the size, age, and culture of the company, for the most part, the basics of the OKR process are similar for most organizations: in order to structure the OKR process successfully, you must start with a strong foundation. And, for many managers and execs, the biggest question becomes: how can we connect different Objectives and Key Results in a way that they cascade both upwards and downwards, as well as across the organization?

We’ll show you. Here, we take a step-by-step approach to show you how one fictitious company (let’s call it ACME Company) might set OKR goals for their organization so you can see first-hand how this strategic process can be used most effectively.

Before we begin, let’s do a quick review of some important terms that we’ll be using throughout this example:

  • Goal: The technical definition of a goal is an aspiration that is to be accomplished within a timeframe that extends beyond the period of one year; but oftentimes, this word is used interchangeably with “objectives”
  • Objective (O): Part of OKRs; the thing that must be accomplished which should be quantifiable, specific, and time-bound
  • Key Results (KRs): Part of OKRs; the steps required in order to accomplish the objective which must be quantifiable, specific, and time-bound
  • Milestone: An action or event which, when completed, signifies a change in the stage or development of a goal or objective
  • Task: A piece of work that must be completed to support the accomplishment of a KR

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get a little more information on our organization, ACME Company:

ACME Company

CEO: Mr. Aaron.

❱ His Objective: Grow the business.

As you can see, this is a company-level goal. Because we are dealing with the company in its entirety, the objective is very broad. To make sure that it becomes measurable and thus achievable, Mr. Aaron will need to include tangible metrics in his KRs:

❱ KR1: Strengthen marketing department by increasing MQLs by 5% through next quarter.

❱ KR2: Achieve 10% growth by the end of Q1.

❱ KR3: Grow sales team by 15% by the end of Q1.

Now, in addition to Mr. Aron, there are additional executives who may also have objectives of their own. Let’s take a look.

CMO: Mr. Smith

❱ ❱ His Objective: Get 600 MQLs.

As you can see, the CEO’s KR1 (Strengthen marketing department by increasing MQLs by 5% through next quarter) contributes to this objective. Now, Mr. Smith can also set his own KRs:

❱ ❱ KR1: Get 200 MQLs from AdWords by Feb 24.

❱ ❱ KR2: Get 200 MQLs from mass mail sending by Jan 30.

❱ ❱ KR3: Come up with 3 strategies for improving SEO by Jan 15.

Then, the Mr. Smith’s KR1 might contribute to the Objective of a PPC Marketing Manager: Improve AdWords campaign. The PPC Marketing Manager’s KRs might then look like this:

❱ ❱ ❱ KR1: Get 150 MQLs via AdWords search by Feb 10.

❱ ❱ ❱ KR2: Get 50 MQLs via CMD by Jan 15.

Now, let’s go back to Mr. Smith’s second KR (Get 200 MQLs from mass mail sending). This might contribute to the Email Marketing Manager’s Objective, which is: Drive leads from mass email sending through Q1. He would then set KRs as follows:

❱ ❱ ❱ KR1: Get 100 MQLs via offering mass mail by end of January.

❱ ❱ ❱ KR2: Get 100 MQLs via content mass mail by mid-February.

And again, back to Mr. Smith’s third KR (Improve SEO). This could contribute to the SEO Marketing Manager’s goal: Improve SEO. He could set the following KR:

❱ ❱ ❱ KR1: Get 200 MQLs from organic search by Feb. 15.

Now that we’ve seen how the CEO’s first KR cascades down and contributes to other goals, let’s see how the second KR will play out.

Mr. Aaron’s second KR (achieve 10% growth) might also be reflected in the goals of upper management, such as the Head of Sales Department.

Head of Sales Department: Ms. Perkins

❱ ❱ Her Objective: Increase Q1 revenue to $500K.

Ms. Perkins can also set her KRs:

❱ ❱ KR1: Get 300K revenue in the South American market by March 31.

❱ ❱ KR2: Get 200K revenue in the European market by March 31.

These KRs will also contribute to other contributors’ goals. Take a look:

Ms. Perkins’ KR 1 (Get 300K revenue in the South American market) contributes to the South American Sales Manager’s goal, Improve South American sales. He can then set the following KRs:

❱ ❱ ❱ KR1: Get 150K revenue in Argentinian market by March 15.

❱ ❱ ❱ KR2: Get 150K revenue in Brazilian market by March 15..

Then, the Head of Sales Department’s second KR (Get 200K revenue in the European market) will contribute to the European Sales Manager’s Goal: Improve European sales. She can then set these KRs:

❱ ❱ ❱ KR1: Get 150K revenue in Eastern European market by March 15.

❱ ❱ ❱ KR2: Get 50K revenue in Central European market by March 15.

Finally, let’s revisit the third KR from the CEO: Grow sales team by 15%.

This could correlate with the CHRO’s goals.

If you’re familiar with OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), you already know that they’re a powerful goal-setting tool that allows busy organizations to align priorities and achieve optimal results. (And if you don’t know about the OKR process yet, I suggest visiting our resources here to quickly familiarize yourself).

Despite already having much knowledge about the best practices and tips of how to use OKRs, many managers and executives still want to see them being used in action. And, at this point in time, there are very few companies that are sharing the precise actions they take to implement OKR goal setting from start to finish. Learn more about success with Objectives and Key Results here.

While the process may vary depending on the size, age, and culture of the company, for the most part, the basics of the OKR process are similar for most organizations: in order to structure the OKR process successfully, you must start with a strong foundation. And, for many managers and execs, the biggest question becomes: how can we connect different Objectives and Key Results in a way that they cascade both upwards and downwards, as well as across the organization?

We’ll show you. Here, we take a step-by-step approach to show you how one fictitious company (let’s call it ACME Company) might set OKR goals for their organization so you can see first-hand how this strategic process can be used most effectively.

Before we begin, let’s do a quick review of some important terms that we’ll be using throughout this example:

  • Goal: The technical definition of a goal is an aspiration that is to be accomplished within a timeframe that extends beyond the period of one year; but oftentimes, this word is used interchangeably with “objectives”
  • Objective (O): Part of OKRs; the thing that must be accomplished which should be quantifiable, specific, and time-bound
  • Key Results (KRs): Part of OKRs; the steps required in order to accomplish the objective which must be quantifiable, specific, and time-bound
  • Milestone: An action or event which, when completed, signifies a change in the stage or development of a goal or objective
  • Task: A piece of work that must be completed to support the accomplishment of a KR

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get a little more information on our organization, ACME Company:

ACME Company

CEO: Mr. Aaron.

❱ His Objective: Grow the business.

As you can see, this is a company-level goal. Because we are dealing with the company in its entirety, the objective is very broad. To make sure that it becomes measurable and thus achievable, Mr. Aaron will need to include tangible metrics in his KRs:

❱ KR1: Strengthen marketing department by increasing MQLs by 5% through next quarter.

❱ KR2: Achieve 10% growth by the end of Q1.

❱ KR3: Grow sales team by 15% by the end of Q1.

Now, in addition to Mr. Aron, there are additional executives who may also have objectives of their own. Let’s take a look.

CMO: Mr. Smith

❱ ❱ His Objective: Get 600 MQLs.

As you can see, the CEO’s KR1 (Strengthen marketing department by increasing MQLs by 5% through next quarter) contributes to this objective. Now, Mr. Smith can also set his own KRs:

❱ ❱ KR1: Get 200 MQLs from AdWords by Feb 24.

❱ ❱ KR2: Get 200 MQLs from mass mail sending by Jan 30.

❱ ❱ KR3: Come up with 3 strategies for improving SEO by Jan 15.

Then, the Mr. Smith’s KR1 might contribute to the Objective of a PPC Marketing Manager: Improve AdWords campaign. The PPC Marketing Manager’s KRs might then look like this:

❱ ❱ ❱ KR1: Get 150 MQLs via AdWords search by Feb 10.

❱ ❱ ❱ KR2: Get 50 MQLs via CMD by Jan 15.

Now, let’s go back to Mr. Smith’s second KR (Get 200 MQLs from mass mail sending). This might contribute to the Email Marketing Manager’s Objective, which is: Drive leads from mass email sending through Q1. He would then set KRs as follows:

❱ ❱ ❱ KR1: Get 100 MQLs via offering mass mail by end of January.

❱ ❱ ❱ KR2: Get 100 MQLs via content mass mail by mid-February.

And again, back to Mr. Smith’s third KR (Improve SEO). This could contribute to the SEO Marketing Manager’s goal: Improve SEO. He could set the following KR:

❱ ❱ ❱ KR1: Get 200 MQLs from organic search by Feb. 15.

Now that we’ve seen how the CEO’s first KR cascades down and contributes to other goals, let’s see how the second KR will play out.

Mr. Aaron’s second KR (achieve 10% growth) might also be reflected in the goals of upper management, such as the Head of Sales Department.

Head of Sales Department: Ms. Perkins

❱ ❱ Her Objective: Increase Q1 revenue to $500K.

Ms. Perkins can also set her KRs:

❱ ❱ KR1: Get 300K revenue in the South American market by March 31.

❱ ❱ KR2: Get 200K revenue in the European market by March 31.

These KRs will also contribute to other contributors’ goals. Take a look:

Ms. Perkins’ KR 1 (Get 300K revenue in the South American market) contributes to the South American Sales Manager’s goal, Improve South American sales. He can then set the following KRs:

❱ ❱ ❱ KR1: Get 150K revenue in Argentinian market by March 15.

❱ ❱ ❱ KR2: Get 150K revenue in Brazilian market by March 15..

Then, the Head of Sales Department’s second KR (Get 200K revenue in the European market) will contribute to the European Sales Manager’s Goal: Improve European sales. She can then set these KRs:

❱ ❱ ❱ KR1: Get 150K revenue in Eastern European market by March 15.

❱ ❱ ❱ KR2: Get 50K revenue in Central European market by March 15.

Finally, let’s revisit the third KR from the CEO: Grow sales team by 15%.

This could correlate with the CHRO’s goals.

CHRO: Mr. Klein

❱ ❱ His Objective: Grow sales team by 15%.

❱ ❱ KR1: Hire 5 new sales reps by end of Q1.

❱ ❱ KR2: Improve employee engagement by 20% by end of Q1.

From there, Mr. Klien’s KRs would cascade:

His KR1 (Hire new sales reps) would contribute to Recruiting Manager’s Goal: Build stronger sales team by hiring 5 new reps by the end of Q1. He might have the following KRs:

❱ ❱ ❱ KR1: Find 10 potential candidates with good portfolios by Jan 20.

❱ ❱ ❱ KR2: Hold preliminary interviews by Feb. 2.

❱ ❱ ❱ KR3: Narrow down best candidates and hold second and third interviews by Feb. 15.

❱ ❱ ❱ KR4: Hire and on-board 5 new candidates by Feb. 28.

Mr. Klein’s second KR (Improve employee engagement by 20% by end of Q1) could contribute to the HR Manager’s goal: Develop 3 new methods for driving employee engagement by the end of Q1. Her KRs might be:

❱ ❱ ❱ KR1: Roll out weekly pulse survey system to entire company by Feb 15.

❱ ❱ ❱ KR2: Interview 5 employees per week through Q1.

❱ ❱ ❱ KR3: Survey all employees by March 15 to see which free incentive would best drive morale (free gym membership, etc.).

By now, you can see how the repeated process of setting Objectives and then Key Results can be linked both downwards, upwards, and across departments. Keep in mind that it should always be a collaborative process, and that employees should always play a part in setting their OKRs to ensure commitment and buy-in. For more information on best practices for OKRs, feel free to visit our resource guide here.