How to use OKRs to plan your day-to-day work
Ask the Expert with Ashleigh Myerscough — Episode 16
Ashleigh Myerscough, Senior Performance Coach at 7Geese answers your questions about human resources and people management during the pandemic.
Q: How do I use OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to plan my day to day work?
AM: This is a very common question we receive here at the flock, since OKRs sit above our day-to-day to-do lists. For those that may be new to OKRs, it’s important to note that OKRs are a strategic planning tool and strategic outcomes are usually not urgent, like our emails and daily todos.
OKRs focus our attention on the objective, or outcome, we want to get to and the key results that will tell us we got there. In other words, the work we do day-to-day gets us to our key results.
Let’s break that down a bit further, using a truly personal example, rather than a business example.
The difference between objectives, key results, and daily to-do lists
At the start of the year I go to the doctor and they tell me I need to improve my health. Let’s say my blood pressure is too high, my cholesterol is too high, I’m pushing the healthy weight range on my BMI.
Those elements that are too high are indicators of my health, similar to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in the business world. So I craft an OKR to improve my health. It looks like this:
To be in better health. That’s the outcome of all the work I’m going to do over the next three months.
Now how do I know the work that I’m doing is getting me closer to better health? Those are my Key Results. Now here’s where most of us get hung up — my Key Results are NOT my blood pressure rating, cholesterol rating or current BMI.
Remember those are INDICATORS of whether I’ve made it to my outcome of better health. My Key Results would be activities that reduce my blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI.
- Increase the number of meals with fruits and vegetables from 10 to 20 each week
- Increase the number of steps I take each day to 10,000
- Complete three workouts a week
Now that I know what Key Results are going to move those Key Indicators of my health, I can plan out my day-to-day.
- Grocery shop for more fruits and veggies
- Plan my meals to include those fruits and veggies
- Cook 20 healthy meals a week
- Plan and walk more each day
- Schedule those three workouts a week
- Maybe sign up for a gym or classes
- Purchase new runners
All those little tasks that will make it possible for me to achieve those key results.
Now as I move through the quarter and I’m eating more fruits and vegetables, I’m walking my 10,000 steps a day and working out, I go to the doctors for a check-up. We check my Health Indicators and see that my blood pressure and cholesterol are dropping, but my BMI hasn’t changed. Those indicators tell me if my Key Results are moving me in the right direction. Some are, while some aren’t as effective as they can be. So I increase the number of workouts per week from three to four as a result.
Checking those Key Indicators informed my Key Results, which informed my day to day work.
Learn more about how we use OKRs at 7Geese
OKRs help us articulate the outcome or Objective we want to achieve and the Key Results that tell us how we are going to get there. Then we plan our day-to-day work around achieving those Key Results. We use Key Indicators to ensure we are moving in the right direction and course correct when needed.