What are Key Results?
Nicole Capobianco avatar
Written by Nicole Capobianco
Updated over a week ago

Key Results are metrics with a starting point and a target that measures progress towards an Objective. While Objectives are like a destination on a map, Key Results are like the signposts that take you there.

Key Results make your Objective specific, but most importantly, they provide feedback as to whether or not you're achieving your Objective. We've put together an overview of Key Results via video or text below.

Now what are Key Results?

Where an Objective is a destination that you set out for yourself, your Key Results will tell you whether you're getting closer to that destination or not.

Key Results are, therefore, a sort of feedback mechanism.

On the other hand, Key Results also make an Objective more specific. It will help everybody understand what is meant by a particular Objective,

An Objective often contains inspiring language such as "Become a great place to work," but what does it actually mean to you and your organization? That's what you have your Key Results for.

Another way to look at Key Results is to look at them as a KPI with a target. So, if you struggle to come up with Key Results for a particular Objective, you could have a look at your KPI dashboard for inspiration,

A way OKRs and KPIs could work together is that if you measure your customers' happiness, for instance, by your Net Promoter Score, and you want the Net Promoter Score to always be at 80 or above, you probably have it on your KPI dashboard to monitor it.

The moment you see your Net Promoter Score drop below 80 and is 50, for instance, you probably want to add an Objective for your organization to boost your customers' happiness.

A way to measure success on that Objective is to increase your Net Promoter Score from 50 to 80 again. Making your Key Results essentially a KPI with a target.

Let's talk about some criteria for Key Results:

  • A Key Result always needs to be measurable, therefore, a Key Result always needs to have a number. Marissa Mayer famously said "It ain't a Key Result unless it has a number."

  • A Key Result also needs to make the Objective achievable. Everybody working on the Objective needs to mutually agree that once the Key Results are achieved, we also consider the Objective to be accomplished.

  • A Key Result is called a Key Result because it's a Key Result for the Objective. That means that you don't have to list all the results that you need to achieve to accomplish the Objective. Focus on the most important results.

  • A Key Result also needs to be challenging. OKRs are a great way to stretch the capabilities of your team and organization, and find out what the possibilities and limits are. So if you're used to selling a thousand books per quarter, putting the target at 1,100 for this quarter is not really challenging. However, if you put a target at 2,000 books for this quarter, you will unlock creative thinking. People will have to rethink the way they've worked before.

  • As a final note, when creating Key Results, make sure that your Key Results are actually results - outcomes, things that you'd like to achieve. Your actions are the things that you'll be doing to drive these results.

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