Product School

What are OKRs in Product Management?

OKRs are a goal-setting framework Product Managers use to stay focused on what matters, measure results, and set clear expectations within the Product Team.

What are OKRs 

OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. This goal-setting framework keeps both teams and organizations focused on what matters while tracking progress towards an inspiring destination.

OKRs can be thought of as the bridge between the high-level outcomes a company seeks and the on-the-ground work that is being done to achieve this.

OKR glossary

Why Implement OKRs

OKRs are a goal-setting framework popularized by Google in the early 2000s. Google still uses this framework today, and it has proven to be successful at keeping both teams and organizations results-focused, increasing transparency, and driving alignment. 

By helping a team connect their work with the strategy or outcome a company seeks, OKRs allows teams to feel autonomous while empowering leaders to keep track of progress. 

How to Set OKRs

OKRs will typically be set both at the team level and at the company level. OKRs for a Product organization or Product Team are set by a cross-functional group that delivers Product, sometimes referred to as the ‘triad’ or ‘trio,’ which includes Engineering, Product Management and Product Design. 

The Objective should be a ‘reach goal’ that is inspirational, aspirational, something worth getting excited about and perhaps a little scary. The Key Results should be measurable so the team can track and report on progress towards the Objective in a robust way. 

An example of OKRs for Product Teams

Because Product Teams are cross-functional in nature, the Objectives a Product Team aspires to will be broad and inspirational.A Product-Management focused Objective could be around the impact a product will make, the problems it will solve, or how loved the product will become as a result of this. 

The Key Results will be measurable milestones that can be used to report in a concrete way on progress towards this goal, and ensure all the team’s efforts are focused on this. 

An example of an Objective for a Product Team could be to ‘Build in the best user experience in the financial services industry.’ Key Results could be usage metrics such as engagement, referrals, user retention, and NPS.   

When to use OKRs in Product Management

Because of the cross-functional nature of the OKR framework, it’s most effective when the entire organization takes the framework, not just the Product Team. Having an organization aligned under an OKR framework can drive cross-functional partnership, foster Product-Led Growth, and increase efficiency through team cohesion.

OKRs in action

When I joined the Product Team, the CPO updated me about the organization’s OKRs, and we brainstormed a team-level OKR to keep Product inspired and on-track towards what matters.

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