OKRs are a very popular framework that can help you and your team set and track measurable goals. How should product managers use them to be successful?
OKRs are popular in the product management space as it allows product managers to focus on the success measures of the objectives their product and business are setting out to achieve.
Product Managers often have the context around why a particular objective is really important for the business and can track the progress towards those objectives by digging into the data and creating reports and dashboards.
What I typically see is product managers using OKRs to set challenging and ambitious goals with stretch targets. This then provides something the PM can use to create alignment and encourage engagement towards achieving those objectives.
How can you set up your own OKRs?
Let’s quickly run through the key elements of this:
Objectives should be aligned to broader company objectives, especially if they’re not the same. If you’re not adopting the company objective verbatim, it might pay to call out how it relates to a company objective.
Key results and success measures should be measurable within a given timeframe, or within the planning cycle (typically quarterly), anything that’s not immediately measurable might be more of a tactic or an option that could help achieve the objective.
Tactics are best set in collaboration with your peers and other functions within your organization. If an objective is measurable there are often many different routes you can take to hitting an objective. A mistake I’ve seen many product teams make is defaulting to building new features/functionality to meet objectives, where they could also be leveraging sales, customer success, and marketing teams too.
What if you’re not currently objective-driven?
If you’re not objective-driven, there’s every chance that you’re just taking orders from the top, a feature factory, or a bit rudderless in the direction you’re taking.
What I recommend as a starting point is to try and re-frame your current product focus as an objective and relate it back to one of the company’s current objectives.
Then, outline what success looks like, and try to keep it measurable. You only need one or two key metrics that you would call out your current focus is a success.
Note: If it’s a bit too difficult to find a key given your current focus, perhaps it’s just a delivery-focused objective, get something done by X date, which is okay if that’s the milestone you’re working towards. You should still have a think about metrics you can pursue along the way that indicate whether or not you’re making the right type of progress.
If you’re after some additional reading on how to embrace OKRs and understand the impact they can have on your product and company I highly recommend checking out Radical Focus.
What are some best practices for using OKRs?
Being objective-driven also provides product managers with focus, and gives the tools for creating alignment and engagement.
It also provides a structure around how to communicate updates and progress to your stakeholders, where you can lead with each of your objectives that you’re pursuing and provide updates on the metrics for each. You might want to share updates on a regular basis over Slack, Email, or in a regular meeting.
If you want to learn more on how you can save time eliminate “surprises” when dealing with stakeholders and streamline your progress reporting, then check out enform.io and schedule a 30-min demo, and we’ll see if we can help you reach your product management goals.