OKRs vs. Scrum: Choose Between OKRs & Scrum (or Use Both!)

okr vs scrum

Ever feel confused about how OKRs and Scrum fit together? Many teams struggle to understand how these two powerful frameworks can work together.

On one hand, OKRs set ambitious goals and track progress, while Scrum focuses on delivering projects in short sprints. So, how do you bridge the gap and ensure both frameworks serve your business objectives?

The answer lies in a strategic combination. By integrating OKRs and Scrum into a structured framework, you can achieve remarkable things.

This blog will highlight the key differences and similarities between these two methodologies. We’ll use real-world examples to illustrate how they function and, most importantly, provide a practical framework to utilize OKRs and Scrum to achieve your business objectives. 

okr vs scrum

What is OKR and Scrum?

OKRs and Scrum are frameworks used to enhance organizational performance but serve different purposes.

OKRs help you set ambitious and measurable goals to align teams and drive progress toward business objectives while Scrum emphasizes iterative development, collaboration, and delivering high-value increments of work within short time frames called Sprints.

While OKRs provide strategic direction and alignment, Scrum facilitates the execution of tasks and projects through adaptive planning and continuous improvement. In essence, OKRs set the direction, while Scrum guides the execution.

What are the core elements of Scrums and OKRs?

Here’s how Scrum’s core elements can power your OKRs:

  1. Product Backlog: Prioritize features that directly address your objectives. This ensures you’re building the right things.
  2. Sprint Backlog: During sprint planning, select Product Backlog items that contribute most to achieving your current key results. Focus on measurable outcomes within the sprint.
  3. Sprint (Increment): Each completed sprint should deliver a valuable piece that moves the needle on your OKRs. Regularly review progress and adapt as needed. Scrum’s short cycles allow quick adjustments to stay on track with OKRs.

Remember, Scrum provides a roadmap for achieving your OKRs through focused delivery in short bursts. Keep it tight, measurable, and adaptable!

Here’s the OKR power trio for success:

  1. Vision Alignment: Ensure your OKRs directly connect to your company’s vision. Craft clear, inspiring Objectives that everyone understands.
  2. Targeted Results: For each Objective, define 2-3 measurable Key Results (KRs) that track progress. Make sure KRs are ambitious yet achievable and specific enough to monitor.
  3. Track & Adapt: Regularly review progress on your KRs. Use OKR software to track progress and hold check-ins to identify roadblocks early and adjust strategies as needed. OKRs are a journey, not a destination, so embrace agility!

Remember, strong OKRs are clear, measurable, and adaptable. Focus on these three core elements to drive impactful results.

What are the main differences between OKR and Scrum?

Here’s the breakdown of the key differences between OKRs and Scrum, focusing on purpose to help you provide clear insights to your client:


OKRs: Think of OKRs as your organization’s aspirational roadmap. They set ambitious goals (Objectives) and define measurable ways to track progress (Key Results). The focus is on the big picture, helping everyone understand the overall direction and what success looks like.

Scrum: This is an agile project management framework. Scrum is all about delivering value in short cycles (Sprints). Teams work on a backlog of tasks, prioritizing and completing them within these Sprints. Scrum helps break down complex projects into manageable chunks, fostering collaboration and rapid adaptation.

In simpler terms:

  • OKRs: “Where are we going?” It sets big, ambitious goals for the organization or team.
  • Scrum: “How do we get there?” It provides the structure and process to achieve those OKRs efficiently.

This allows teams to stay focused on the big picture (OKRs) while having the flexibility to adapt and iterate within Scrum Sprints.

Here’s a more down-to-earth example: Imagine you’re running a lemonade stand with your friends.

OKRs (Your Goals)

Objective: Be the coolest lemonade stand on the block this summer!

Key Result 1: Sell out of lemonade every day.

Key Result 2: Get at least a 10 out of 10 rating from 80% of customers.

Scrum (Your Process)

You and your friends work short shifts (Sprints) to achieve your goals.

  • Sprint 1: Focus on making the tastiest lemonade recipe and getting a colorful sign to attract customers. This helps you sell out (Key Result 1).
  • Sprint 2: Add fun features like fancy ice cubes or even a mini-game to keep customers entertained. This could lead to better ratings (Key Result 2).
  • Sprint 3: Based on customer feedback (maybe they want sugar-free options!), adjust your recipe or add new flavors to keep them returning for more.


OKRs are all about the big picture. They set ambitious, long-term goals (Objectives) and measurable ways to track progress towards them (Key Results).

Typically, OKRs are set quarterly or annually. This allows you to focus on the long game, pushing for significant achievements that might take time to reach.

Scrum, on the other hand, thrives on short, iterative cycles. Think of it as a series of sprints, usually lasting 1-4 weeks.

During each sprint, the team tackles a specific set of tasks focused on delivering a working piece of the project. This rapid iteration allows for constant adaptation and learning as the project progresses.

Here are the insights on timeframes

Imagine OKRs as your destination on a road trip and Scrum as the itinerary outlining the daily stops and milestones. They work together beautifully!

Use OKRs to set the overall direction, then leverage Scrum’s iterative approach to achieve those goals within the timeframe of your OKRs efficiently.

Here’s a more relatable example, imagine you’re planning a house party.

OKR (Objective): Throw an epic house party that everyone will remember!

Key Result 1: Have at least 30 people attend

Key Result 2: Get rave reviews from at least 70% of the attendees

Scrum can help you achieve this. You can break down the party planning into mini-projects (sprints) like:

  • Sprint 1 (1 week): Finalize the guest list and send out invitations. This directly contributes to getting enough people (Key Result 1).
  • Sprint 2 (1 week): Plan the music, food, and decorations. A fun atmosphere can lead to a great party (Key Result 2).

Throughout each week, you and your party planning crew can check in daily. Discuss what went well, what needs tweaking, and if there’s anything missing (like more snacks!). This keeps you on track to throw that legendary bash.

Think of OKRs as your party’s overall theme – the epic night you want to create. Scrum is the action plan – the steps you take each week to make that epic night a reality. They work together to ensure your party is a blast!


OKRs are highly adaptable

OKRs are designed to be adaptable. They typically have a longer timeframe (quarterly or yearly), allowing you to adjust them as needed.

If priorities shift or market conditions change, you can revisit your OKRs and make modifications during your regular check-ins. This flexibility ensures your goals remain relevant throughout the cycle.

Scrum, Adaptable within sprints

Scrum is also adaptable but within the confines of a Sprint (usually 2-4 weeks). Teams can adjust their work plan during daily stand-up meetings to address roadblocks or changing priorities.

However, major changes to the Sprint goals are generally discouraged to maintain focus and avoid rework.

This combination is powerful! OKRs provide the “what” – the overall direction – while Scrum helps you navigate the “how” – the iterative execution with room for adjustments within Sprints.

Here’s how you can leverage this:

  • Align OKRs with Sprint Goals: Ensure each Sprint contributes to achieving a specific OKR objective. This keeps everyone focused on the bigger picture.
  • Review OKRs Regularly: Schedule quarterly check-ins to assess progress and adapt your OKRs if necessary.
  • Use Sprint Reviews to Inform OKRs: Insights from Sprint Reviews can inform adjustments to your OKRs during the next cycle.

By combining the adaptability of OKRs with the iterative nature of Scrum, you can empower your clients to navigate change effectively and achieve their goals.

Here’s a simple example: Imagine you’re helping a bakery set goals.

OKR (Big Picture Goal): We want to increase sales of cupcakes by 15% this month.

Scrum (Action Steps): The bakery team uses short weekly work plans to achieve this.

  • Week 1: They might focus on creating eye-catching displays for the cupcakes and offering a special discount. (Think of this as cupcake week!)
  • Week 2: They could bake new, trendy cupcake flavors based on customer feedback and offer online ordering for easier buying.

Adaptability in Action

During their weekly team meeting, the bakery team might discover the discount isn’t boosting sales as much as expected. They can adapt quickly:

  • Scrum: They can adjust their plan for the rest of the month. Maybe they focus on offering free samples or creating beautiful cupcake gift baskets to attract more customers.
  • OKR: If by the end of the month, cupcake sales haven’t reached 15%, the team might need to slightly adjust their goal (say, to 10%) or brainstorm new ideas for the next month, like themed cupcake decorating classes to drive sales.

What are the similarities between Scum and OKR?

Both OKRs and Scrum share some key similarities that can be leveraged to create a powerful goal-achievement engine for your organization. Let’s break it down:

  1. Clearly communicate goals

  • OKRs: Transparency is core to OKRs. Objectives and Key Results are meant to be cascaded down the organization and shared openly with all teams. This ensures everyone understands the bigger picture and how their work contributes.
  • Scrum: Scrum is all about clear visibility. Daily stand-up meetings and readily accessible product backlogs keep everyone informed about progress and roadblocks.

Insight: Combine these by aligning OKRs with Scrum teams. Let OKRs guide sprint goals, making sure everyone in the team understands how their sprint contributes to the larger objective.

  1. Stay on track

  • OKRs: OKRs typically have a longer timeframe, often quarterly. They set the aspirational direction.
  • Scrum: Scrum operates in shorter bursts called sprints, usually 1-4 weeks long. This allows for quick iterations and adjustments.

Insight: Here’s where the magic happens. Break down OKRs into smaller, measurable targets that can be tracked within a sprint. This provides a clear picture of progress towards the bigger goal.

  1. Define success measures

  • OKRs: Success with OKRs isn’t just about achieving 100%. They encourage ambitious goals, and sometimes exceeding or falling short can be valuable learning experiences.
  • Scrum: Scrum focuses on delivering working product increments at the end of each sprint. It’s a continuous improvement cycle, with success measured by progress, not just completion.

Insight: View OKRs and Scrum as complementary. Use OKRs to define success on a larger scale, while Scrum helps achieve those goals through iterative delivery and learning.

  1. Set measurable yet, Ambitious goals

  • OKRs: Setting good OKRs requires discipline. They should be clear, concise, and measurable. Regular check-ins ensure everyone stays focused.
  • Scrum: Scrum has a defined framework with specific roles (Product Owner, Scrum Master, Development Team) and ceremonies (Sprint Planning, Daily Stand-up, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospective).

Insight: The rigor of both frameworks can be mutually reinforcing. Scrum ceremonies can be used to discuss progress towards OKRs, while OKR check-ins can inform sprint planning and prioritization.

  1. Break down work into manageable chunks

  • OKRs: Benefit from frequent reviews (quarterly or even monthly) to assess progress toward your Objectives and adjust Key Results if needed.
  • Scrum: Uses “Sprints,” short, time-boxed periods (usually 2-4 weeks) to deliver a defined chunk of work.

Insight: Align your OKR cycles with your Scrum sprints.

  1. Keep it simple

  • OKRs: Encourage setting a small number of ambitious Objectives with measurable Key Results.
  • Scrum: Emphasizes clear goals for each Sprint and a focus on delivering the highest-value items.

Insight: Break down your OKRs into smaller, actionable goals for each Sprint. This translates the big picture of OKRs into tangible tasks for your Scrum team.

By understanding these similarities, you can create a powerful system that combines the long-term vision of OKRs with the focused execution of Scrum. This will help your client’s teams achieve ambitious goals transparently and timely.

How does scrum contribute to the OKR process?

Scrum provides the structure and flexibility to translate your OKRs into action. It’s like having a well-oiled engine driving your team towards those ambitious goals. Let’s break down and see how each Scrum element contributes valuable insights:

  1. Iterative planning with sprints 

Imagine OKRs as your big-picture destination, and Scrum sprints are like the road trips you take to get there. These short, focused sprints (typically 1-4 weeks) allow you to break down OKR into smaller, achievable tasks. 

This iterative approach lets you course-correct along the way if needed, ensuring you’re always making progress toward your OKRs.

  1. Daily stand-ups 

Think of daily stand-ups as mini-check-ins for your OKRs. These quick meetings keep everyone aligned and focused. 

Team members can share progress on tasks related to the OKRs, identify any roadblocks, and adjust their approach as needed. It’s like constantly checking the map on your road trip to ensure you’re on the right track to reach your OKR destination.

  1. Transparency 

Scrum emphasizes open communication, which is crucial for OKRs. Both frameworks encourage sharing objectives and results openly across the team. 

This transparency fosters a sense of ownership and accountability, ensuring everyone’s working towards the same goals. Everyone on the road trip knows the destination and can see how their contribution helps reach it.

  1. Adaptability 

The beauty of Scrum is its flexibility. Like on a road trip, you might encounter detours or unexpected stops. 

Scrum allows teams to adapt their approach based on learnings from each sprint. This agility is crucial for OKRs – if something’s not working towards achieving your objectives, you can adjust your tasks or even the OKRs themselves during the cycle. It’s like being able to reroute your trip based on real-time information.

  1. Continuous Improvement 

Scrum’s focus on constantly learning and improving aligns perfectly with OKRs’ ongoing nature. Scrum retrospectives, review meetings held after each sprint provide valuable insights into what’s working well and what can be improved. 

This continuous feedback loop helps teams refine their approach and ultimately achieve better results with their OKRs. Think of it as learning from each leg of your road trip and making adjustments for the next one to reach your destination more efficiently.

  1. Cross-functional collaboration

Scrum promotes teamwork with diverse skill sets coming together. This collaborative environment is ideal for OKRs, as achieving ambitious goals often requires input and expertise from various departments. 

By working together, the team can leverage each other’s strengths and ensure everyone contributes effectively to the OKRs. Imagine your road trip with people who can navigate, fix the car, and keep everyone entertained – that’s the power of cross-functional collaboration.

How can OKRs and scrum work together?

OKRs and Scrum are a winning combination. By aligning objectives, putting up transparency, and measuring progress, you empower scrum teams to deliver results that truly matter to your organization:

  1. Alignment of objectives 

Imagine OKRs as the North Star for your organization. They set the big-picture goals, while Scrum provides the roadmap to get there. 

During your OKR setting process, involve scrum teams. Break down company objectives into objectives that resonate with each team. This ensures everyone’s working towards the same goal, even within their sprints.

  1. Transparency and collaboration

Scrum thrives on transparency. Post your OKRs prominently so everyone on the team understands the “why” behind their sprint goals. 

This brings collaboration as teams can identify how their work contributes to the bigger picture. Encourage regular check-ins where teams discuss progress on their OKRs and how their sprints drive those results.

  1. Measuring success

The OKR framework is measurable. Scrum teams can use these Key Results to define sprint success metrics. 

For example, if an OKR increases customer satisfaction by 10%, a sprint goal could be to launch a new feature that addresses a specific pain point, with a success metric tied to user feedback on that feature.

  1. Empowering the scrum master

The Scrum Master plays a crucial role in translating OKRs into actionable sprints. Help them understand how OKRs connect to the product backlog and sprint planning. 

This empowers them to guide the team in selecting tasks that contribute most to achieving the OKRs.

  1. Continuous improvement through retrospectives

Use sprint retrospectives to not only evaluate sprint performance but also assess progress on OKRs. Did the completed work move the needle on your Key Results? 

This feedback loop allows teams to learn, adapt, and refine their approach in subsequent sprints to ensure they’re on track to achieve the bigger OKRs.


Here are two bonus tips: Conduct regular OKR check-ins throughout your Scrum cycle. This ensures your sprints align with the bigger picture outlined in your OKRs.

Involve the entire team in OKR discussions and Scrum planning sessions. This promotes ownership and transparency, crucial ingredients for success.

Still, have questions or need a helping hand with implementation? That’s where JOP comes in

As experienced OKR Consultants, we can guide you in crafting effective OKRs to setting up a seamless Scrum framework. Feel free to chat!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is an OKR in Scrum?

OKRs aren’t directly part of Scrum. Scrum focuses on delivering products in short sprints, while OKRs set strategic goals for a longer timeframe (quarters or years). However, OKRs can inform Scrum by providing high-level direction for the product backlog.

2. What is the difference between the Scrum product goal and OKR?

A Scrum product goal describes what the product team wants to achieve within a specific timeframe (typically a product increment). It’s clear, concise, and aspirational. An OKR, on the other hand, sets a broader objective with measurable key results to track progress. Think of the product goal as a stepping stone towards achieving the larger objective outlined in the OKR.

3. Can OKRs replace traditional Scrum goals and objectives?

No. Scrum goals focus on short-term product delivery, while OKRs define the strategic direction. They work best together. Use OKRs to set the “why” behind the product, informing the Scrum product goal, which focuses on the “what” to be delivered.

4. Are OKRs and Scrum mutually exclusive, or can they complement each other?

OKRs and Scrum are absolutely complementary. Scrum provides a framework for delivering product increments, while OKRs ensure those increments contribute to a larger strategic vision.

5. Can OKRs be integrated into Scrum practices seamlessly?

Absolutely! Here’s how:

  • Align OKRs with the Product Vision: Ensure your OKRs support the long-term vision for the product.
  • Inform Product Backlog Prioritization: Use OKRs to prioritize backlog items that contribute most to achieving the objectives.

Conduct OKR Retrospectives Regularly: Review progress on OKRs during Sprint Reviews and adapt the product backlog if needed.

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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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