New Year, New Strategy: Set and Execute Goals that Work

New Year, New Strategy Set and Execute Goals that Work

New Year is a great time for reflection – You wonder what went wrong and how you could improve as a team.

Even if you identify the challenges, you don’t know how to communicate them to the team and enable them to work on them.

Fortunately, it is the start of a new business strategy cycle, and you could do something impactful this time.

This is where meaningful goal-setting comes in – a goal-setting framework to communicate and align the team towards critical business priorities from top to bottom of the organization.

This article will illustrate how you can create a meaningful strategy from scratch and make an impactful execution plan that is scalable, too.

New Year, New Strategy Set and Execute Goals that Work

What is meaningful goal-setting?

When you set meaningful goals and practice coordinated and focused strategy execution, you are more likely to achieve these goals as a team. This team alignment and clear goal-setting are meaningful goal-setting.

Read on to understand this better.

Firstly, let’s do a quick check of goal-setting in your organization with these reflective questions

  • Does everyone on your team have clarity and can recall your company’s top objectives?
  • Do you have a meaningful process for cascading goals from top management to individual contributors?
  • Do your team goals directly contribute to the overall company vision and objectives?
  • Are goals set so everyone in the team understands how their work impacts the company’s success?
  • Do your team members find connecting day-to-day tasks with broader company goals challenging?
  • Are goals reviewed and adjusted regularly to adapt to changing business needs?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of the above, your goal-setting needs an upgrade.

Now, let’s understand meaningful goal-setting with the CAFE model. (JOP’s execution framework)

Did you know many businesses struggle to establish true CAFE (clarity, alignment, focus, and execution) within their teams?

We at JOP found this after talking to many founders globally and observing the common organizational patterns. 

The data speaks similarly.

  • Only 38% of the employees have clear expectations. (Redthread)
  • 47% say projects fail due to alignment issues. (Lucid)
  • 67% of the company strategies fail due to poor execution. (HBR)
  • Investing in strategic priorities boosts value delivered by 40%. (Universal Creative Solutions)

You practice meaningful goal-setting when – you tackle these problems in your organizational goal-setting and work collaboratively to iterate and adjust as you work toward these goals.

How to set goals differently and tackle the above problems?

Compared to traditional goal-setting approaches, you should introduce a paradigm shift in how goals are framed and pursued within an organization.

Traditional methods often focus on setting broad, sometimes vague, annual goals that lack the specificity needed for effective execution.

In contrast, meaningful goal-setting frameworks like the OKRs emphasize clarity, measurability, and alignment, setting ambitious yet realistic objectives alongside concrete and measurable milestones or KPIs or key results.

The good part is that the OKR framework tackles the biggest challenges in CAFE (Clarity, Focus, Alignment & Execution).

OKRs plus an effective implementation plan proved to be an effective strategy to address the common CAFE challenge.

This approach encourages a more dynamic and adaptable strategy, as OKRs are frequently reviewed and adjusted, enabling teams to pivot quickly in response to market changes or emerging opportunities.

Moreover, its cascading nature ensures alignment at all levels of the organization. Unlike traditional goal-setting, where objectives may not always correlate with overarching company priorities, OKRs create a clear line of sight from top-level strategic objectives to individual contributions.

Ultimately, OKRs introduce a strategic agility that traditional goal-setting often lacks with teamwork empowering alignment.

What are OKRs?

OKRs, which stands for Objectives and Key Results, are strategic ways of setting and tracking goals that align team members with the company’s broader vision and priorities. 

It’s like a roadmap that helps teams know what big things they’re aiming for (the Objectives) and the specific steps or targets they need to hit to get there (the Key Results).

It’s all about ensuring everyone’s on the same page in their daily grind, working toward the same essential stuff the company wants to achieve.

This method helps teams stay focused, keeps things clear, and lets everyone adjust their plans if things change. It addresses the CAFE problems very well.

OKRs are not new to organizations. In fact, Google started using it in 1999 when the OKR Advocate and VC, John Doerr, approached the Google founders.

Since then, many organizations, profit and nonprofits have realized its importance in team alignment, goals clarity and innovation. 

The names include Pinterest, Netflix, the YMCA (nonprofit), Airbnb, Duolingo, Allbirds, etc.

Create your business strategy and objectives and align your whole team with them

Transforming your goal-setting will demand in-depth organizational understanding, vision, missions, short-term and long-term goals, and priorities.

Additionally, you must think strategically and practice crucial change management to increase your chances of achieving your ultimate business objectives.

We will use OKRs as the meaningful goal-setting framework here as it is purposeful and aligns the team well with the top-level company goals.

1. Set a clear, bigger picture for the company

This step involves a strategic mix of collaboration, analysis, prioritization, and consensus-building to set a common direction for all team members.

Gain buy-in and understanding: Initiate the process by securing buy-in from top leaders. Educate them about the essence and benefits of OKRs. Their understanding and support will be instrumental in cascading this framework effectively across the organization.

Collective brainstorming: Engage all stakeholders and team leaders in collaborative brainstorming sessions. Encourage open discussions to distill the core ideas and business priorities. This collaborative approach ensures diverse perspectives are considered, helping create meaningful objectives.

Business analysis for objectives: Conduct a SWOT analysis. This will help identify critical areas that should be reflected in the objectives. For instance, in a B2B SaaS company, the objective might be to “Enhance Customer Retention,” emerging from a SWOT analysis highlighting the need to address potential weaknesses in customer retention.

Prioritization and focus: Limit the number of objectives to not more than 3-4. This ensures that the team’s energy and resources are focused on achieving meaningful outcomes. Each objective should have 3-5 key results, outlining measurable milestones that signify progress toward the objective.

Resolving conflicts and alignment: Acknowledge that conflicts may arise during this process due to differing individual perspectives and priorities. However, emphasize the importance of aligning on a few critical OKRs that genuinely reflect the most pressing priorities for the company. Encourage discussions aimed at consensus-building and compromise to achieve alignment.

2. Let the teams connect with the bigger picture (literally)

With this step, you are enabling a shared sense of purpose, collaboration, and a clear line of sight between individual contributions and the company’s strategic goals.

  • Value communication and buy-in: Reiterate the value of the OKR framework to teams. Use relatable examples or success stories from within the industry.
  • Change management and best practices: Emphasize the need for a shift in mindset and work approach. Communicate the best practices and highlight the need for adaptability, transparency, and measurable outcomes. Explain that this change isn’t about adding more work but channeling efforts more effectively toward shared goals.
  • Empower teams to create OKRs: Encourage teams to take ownership of their objectives while aligning them with company-wide OKRs. Guide how their work directly contributes to the broader company vision.

Let’s see this alignment in action: In a B2B SaaS company, the development team could create an OKR to “Reduce Product Bug Reports by 30%,” aligning with the company’s goal of “Enhance Product Quality.” Simultaneously, the customer support team might set an OKR to “Decrease Customer Complaint Resolution Time by 20%,” contributing to the company’s goal of “Improving Customer Satisfaction.”

  • Cross-functional alignment: Encourage cross-functional collaboration by allowing teams to link their OKRs with other departments. For instance, the product development team might collaborate with the customer success team to ensure that a KR such as “Deliver two new customer-centric features” aligns with the product roadmap and enhances customer satisfaction.

3. Ensure clarity at the individual level

By providing the necessary training, tools, and guidance, individuals can craft meaningful OKRs that not only align with team and company goals but also enable a sense of ownership and purpose in their efforts.

Support and training: Provide guidance on framing objectives that are ambitious yet achievable and setting measurable key results. Use real-world examples specific to their roles or departments to illustrate effective OKR creation.

Platform familiarization: For larger teams, introduce them to an OKR management platform. Train them on how to use the platform effectively to set, track, and manage their OKRs. Highlight the platform’s role in enhancing collaboration, transparency, and visibility across teams.

Clear expectations and accountability: Communicate the importance of individual accountability, meeting deadlines, and participating in progress reviews. Outline the role of OKRs in performance evaluations, supporting a culture where OKRs are seen as integral to individual and team success.

Alignment with team and company goals: Guide individuals in creating their OKRs in a way that aligns with team and company objectives. 

For instance, consider an individual in the customer success team creating an OKR to “Increase Customer Satisfaction Rating by 15%,” directly aligning with the team’s focus on “Improving Customer Experience.” Utilizing the platform, they could easily visualize how their objectives contribute to the larger team goals.

4. Delegate OKR champions for all the teams involved

OKR champions bridge the gap between the broader organizational objectives and the implementation of OKRs. Teams benefit from their dedicated guidance and support, ensuring a smoother adoption and sustainability.

Identify individuals within each team who show enthusiasm and interest in driving this adoption. They will guide their respective teams through the intricacies of OKRs, helping individuals understand, adopt, and excel in utilizing the framework effectively.

For instance, in a sales team, an individual known for their business and team dynamics understanding might step into the role of an OKR champion. They would assist team members in setting relevant sales-related OKRs aligned with the company’s objectives and follow best practices.

5. Take external help in OKR implementation

External OKR and business strategy experts have honed their skills, understanding what works and what doesn’t, guiding organizations in setting meaningful OKRs. They also help in ensuring alignment, promoting effective execution, and navigating potential hurdles.

Engaging with such experts becomes a valuable investment in ensuring a smoother transition and maximizing the benefits of this framework.

If your organization is new to this, these OKR advocates or experts bring invaluable experience from implementing OKRs in various organizational settings.

They can easily identify the common issues faced by first-time users, such as creating inappropriate OKRs (like BAU OKRs, siloed, unrealistic, or too easy objectives), poor alignment across levels, uncertainty about where to begin, lack of OKR tracking, ineffective management, and unawareness of best practices such as regular check-ins.

For instance, companies like JOP (Joy of Performing),, Workboard, and others specialize in OKR implementation, and also provide an OKR management platform.

Take a look at how JOP’s OKR consultation works.

Their experience guiding companies through OKR creation, alignment, and execution planning can significantly reduce the learning curve for new adopters.

If you want to learn more about OKRs and their execution, you can book a call with our OKR experts.

Also, you get 20% off across all the JOP’s pricing plans before 15th January 2024.


1. When is the right time to start with OKRs?

Typically, it’s best when starting a new strategic cycle at the beginning of a quarter or year to set the tone for aligned efforts.

2. How does the usual process of implementing OKRs for the first time go?

Adopting the OKR framework is a learning curve that requires adaptability and feedback for refinement.

  • Educating and getting buy-in from the stakeholders
  • Setting company-level objectives collaboratively
  • Cascading these objectives to teams
  • Aligning team and individual OKRs with discussion
  • Providing support and training throughout the process

3. How do we ensure that OKRs remain relevant as our business landscape evolves?

Regularly review OKRs to ensure they reflect current business priorities. Encourage ongoing discussions and adaptability within teams to adjust OKRs in response to changing market conditions or strategic shifts. 

4. How can OKRs be integrated into our existing systems?

OKRs can be integrated into existing goals-setting systems, aligning them with performance evaluations, incorporating OKRs into regular team meetings, and utilizing OKR management platforms.

5. How can we encourage buy-in and enthusiasm for OKRs among team members?

Start by clearly communicating the value of OKRs—how they drive clarity, focus, alignment, meaningful work, and personal growth. Show real-world examples of successful OKR implementation and emphasize the team’s role in achieving ambitious business goals.

6. How do we handle conflicts or adjustments needed in OKRs mid-cycle without derailing team focus?

Encourage open discussions and a collaborative approach when conflicts or adjustments arise. Remind teams that OKRs are flexible and changes can be made if circumstances shift, keeping the focus on achieving meaningful outcomes.

7. How often will OKRs be reviewed, and what happens if an individual falls behind on their OKRs?

Regular OKR check-ins are recommended, typically weekly. Falling behind on OKRs isn’t uncommon. Encourage individuals to communicate challenges early, reassess OKRs if needed, and focus on progress rather than just meeting targets.

8. Can personal development or career growth be incorporated into individual OKRs?

Absolutely. You can align personal aspirations with professional goals. For instance, setting a Key Result focused on skill development or completing a course that enhances current job performance.

author img

Gaurav Sabharwal


Gaurav is the CEO of JOP (Joy of Performing), an OKR and high-performance enabling platform. With almost two decades of experience in building businesses, he knows what it takes to enable high performance within a team and engage them in the business. He supports organizations globally by becoming their growth partner and helping them build high-performing teams by tackling issues like lack of focus, unclear goals, unaligned teams, lack of funding, no continuous improvement framework, etc. He is a Certified OKR Coach and loves to share helpful resources and address common organizational challenges to help drive team performance. Read More

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