This What Works looks at Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), the business prioritisation tool that's making waves.

OKRs are kind of a big thing in the business world at the moment. Agencies all over the place are turning to OKRs to help them manage their priorities, bring focus and take valuable steps forward in embodying their purpose, vision and mission.

But, if you're using OKRs … what works?

And if you're thinking about using OKRs, or about to implement them in your business, what do you need to know? You'll be very aware, of course, of the many methodologies and approaches to working with the priorities of your agency, and you may well have tried a number previously, too — things like the Big Rocks concept made popular by Stephen Covey, the Rockefeller Habits (made into a platform as Scaling Up), the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), or the North Star metric framework. If you've looked at any of those, you'll certainly heard of OKRs, and you may well also have investigated them.

This piece is for you — you've got lots of questions about OKRs, about what works with OKRs, and questions like:

  • When do you need OKRs, and when don't you?
  • How do you make them work?
  • How can you get the most of them?
  • What are the pitfalls to avoid?
  • Do they fit into your agency's current stage in the business lifecycle?

Here, we've looked in detail at both the ideals of OKRs and their practical reality. We won't be going over the basic concepts — there's plenty of good resources for you online (see particularly Google's re:Work guide to OKRs), and lots of good books too (see the suggested reading at the end of this piece). Throughout, we'll assume that you're already familiar with the essential ideas.

Here we'll be looking at what actually works with OKRs.

Here’s what you need to know. This is what works.

Should I consider OKRs?

The most important thing to decide first of all is whether you should even consider OKRs in the first place. They may not fit in your business, or you may think their benefits are not necessary.

To help you decide that, the following is an outline of the main reasons why you might consider OKRs.