Understanding OKR Basics: A Comprehensive Guide

Everyone knows the times when they successfully achieve some goal at work. Remember how you are so clear on what you want to achieve and how you are going to do it. OKRs simplify this process.

When you work without asking how your role impacts the business, you soon begin to lose enthusiasm and the urge to collaborate with your colleagues.

An SHRM study found that 72% of employees have unclear job expectations and are more likely to experience stress and burnout.

OKRs are a simple goals-management framework that works well with and supports positive work environment factors like continuous feedback and improvement.

OKRs are for anyone who wants to plan and act based on the measurable outcomes and milestones they want to achieve.

In this article, you’ll learn what OKRs are exactly and how OKRs can help you simplify your business or anything you want to achieve in life.

What exactly is the meaning of OKRs?

OKRs, or Objectives and Key Results management framework, was created and popularized by Intel’s former CEO, Andy Grove, and has been embraced by numerous successful companies, including Google and LinkedIn.

It is a strategic tool that enables organizations to define their objectives and measure their progress through key results.

What are objectives and key results?

In layman’s terms, objectives stand for the “what,” and key results stand for the “how.”

Objectives are the specific goals that an organization, team, or individual aims to achieve within a defined period. They should be aspirational, challenging, and aligned with the organization’s overall mission. They provide a clear direction and serve as a guiding star for the team.

Key results are the measurable milestones that indicate progress toward the objectives. They act as a yardstick to assess performance and analyze whether the desired outcomes are achieved. They are specific, time-bound, and quantifiable, enabling employees to track progress and make data-driven decisions.

What do you need to create OKRs for your organization?

  • Clarity of organizational Vision and Mission

What do you want to achieve as an organization? This knowledge ensures that the objectives align with the overall organizational goals.

  • Collaboration

OKRs are not just top-down. They involve input from various stakeholders within the organization.

Engage employees from different teams to contribute insights and align their individual goals with the overall objectives.

  • Resources and Knowledge

This involves tools or software to track and manage OKRs effectively and training to ensure everyone understands and executes the framework effectively.

An OKR example

Let’s consider a hypothetical scenario of a B2B SaaS Sales team to illustrate how OKRs work in practice:

This is a sample OKR for a B2B SaaS Sales team to help you understand what OKRs look like in practice:

Objective: Increase Annual Revenue by 25%

  • KR 1: Achieve $0.5 million in new sales from existing clients
  • KR 2: Acquire ten new enterprise-level customers
  • KR 3: Increase upsell and cross-sell revenue by 10%

Here, the objective is to increase the annual revenue by 25%. The KRs specify the measurable outcomes that will contribute to achieving this objective.

By tracking progress against the KRs, they can assess their performance, identify areas for improvement, and take action to meet their revenue targets.

This is just a simple example. You must tailor your OKRs to your specific organization and goals.

Who is the OKR framework for?

Originally created for measuring output of and aligning the employees and the business in Intel, people have used OKRs for both their personal and professional lives.

In organizations, whether you are a founder, executive, manager, or individual, OKRs can help you align your efforts with the business, track progress, and achieve meaningful results.

Founders and Executives

They aim to drive business growth, enhance market positioning, and ensure long-term success.

They are responsible for setting the strategic direction, making key decisions, and aligning the organization’s resources.

For them, OKRs mean a framework for translating the company vision into actionable goals. It helps them prioritize objectives, track progress, and align the organization toward key business goals and priorities.

OKRs enable clear communication, focus, and accountability across teams, simplifying the process of cascading goals throughout the company. 


They usually focus on team performance, project execution, and achieving departmental objectives.

They oversee the teams, provide guidance, and ensure the team’s productivity and success.

OKRs offer them a structured approach to set team objectives, define key results, and monitor progress.

It also provides a clear framework for aligning team members, clarifying roles and expectations, and facilitating a culture of transparency and collaboration.

OKRs also simplify the process of performance management, feedback, and coaching, allowing managers to support employee growth and development effectively.

Individual contributors

Individuals seek personal growth, career advancement, and meaningful organizational contributions.

They are accountable for executing tasks, projects, or initiatives that contribute to the team and company objectives.

OKRs help individuals align their efforts with the broader objectives of the team and organization.

They also clarify what matters most, enable better prioritization, and facilitate progress tracking.

OKRs simplify the goal-setting process, enable individuals to take ownership of their work, and give a sense of purpose and motivation.

OKR for personal use

People using OKRs in their personal life aim to achieve personal growth, work-life balance, and overall well-being.

For them, OKRs mean setting personal goals, learning new skills, managing time effectively, and following their passions.

OKRs give them a structured framework for individuals to set meaningful personal objectives and track progress.

It helps them prioritize activities, allocate time and resources, and focus on what truly matters.

By using OKRs, individuals can break down aspirational goals into actionable steps, measure their achievements, and adjust their efforts accordingly.

Who created OKRs and why?

The creation of OKRs can be attributed to the visionary leadership of Andy Grove and his deep understanding of scientific management principles.

Andy Grove was a Hungarian-born American entrepreneur and former CEO of Intel Corporation.

Grove was a firm believer in scientific management. He believed businesses could be run more efficiently and effectively if they were managed based on data and evidence.

He also believed that employees should be given clear goals and objectives and that they should be held accountable for their performance.

Through iMBOs (OKRs) at Intel, Grove revolutionized goal-setting and execution within the organization, ultimately contributing to its remarkable success.

During Grove’s tenure at Intel, the company faced significant challenges. The company lost market share to Japanese competitors, and its stock price declined. Grove knew that Intel needed to change its way of doing business if it wanted to survive.

To overcome these crises and propel Intel’s growth, Grove identified the need for a goal-setting framework that could align the entire organization, foster accountability, and drive high performance. This realization became the catalyst for the creation of OKRs.

Grove introduced the iMBOs (Intel Management by Objectives) to bring his vision to life. This system would later evolve into the OKR framework.

iMBOs were based on these principles:

  • Focus: Have a small number of important goals.
  • Ambition: Ambitious but achievable objectives.
  • Transparency: Everyone in the company knows what the set OKRs are.
  • Alignment: All team members should work towards the same goals.

Types of OKRs with examples

  • Company-level OKRs

They are the top-level strategic objectives of the business. They focus on the company’s vision, growth, and market position. They provide a clear direction for the entire organization. Here’s an example:

Objective: Become the market leader in B2B Performance Management Software

Key Result 1: Achieve an X% increase in market share within the industry by the end of the year.

Key Result 2: Attain a customer satisfaction score of X through feedback surveys.

Key Result 3: Increase annual recurring revenue (ARR) by X% via new client acquisition and upselling.

  • Team-level OKRs

They align with departmental or functional goals and support company-level objectives. They ensure that teams work cohesively towards common goals. Here’s an example for the Sales team:

Objective: Increase sales revenue and customer acquisition

Key Result 1: Achieve X% growth in monthly sales revenue in the coming quarter.

Key Result 2: Acquire X new clients within the current fiscal year.

Key Result 3: Enhance the customer retention rate by X% through enhanced account management.

  • Individual-level OKRs

They focus on the specific goals and responsibilities of individual employees. They contribute to the team and company objectives. Here’s an example of a Sales Representative

Objective: Exceed sales targets and enhance sales skills

Key Result 1: Achieve an X% increase in quarterly sales revenue compared to the target.

Key Result 2: Complete X number of sales training programs to enhance product knowledge and sales techniques.

Key Result 3: Close X number of upsell opportunities with existing clients.

  • Cross-functional OKRs

They encourage cooperation across teams to achieve shared objectives. Here’s an example for the Sales and Marketing teams:

Objective: Improve lead generation and conversion rate

Key Result 1: Increase qualified leads through Marketing by X% compared to the previous quarter.

Key Result 2: Improve the lead-to-opportunity conversion rate by X% through better alignment between Sales and Marketing.

Key Result 3: Collaborate on X joint marketing campaigns to target specific customer segments.

  • Personal OKRs

These allow employees to set personal growth, development, and well-being goals. Here’s an example:

Objective: Enhance work-life balance and professional development

Key Result 1: Take X vacation days to rejuvenate and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Key Result 2: Attend X number of industry conferences or workshops for professional development.

Key Result 3: Achieve X hours of focused learning outside regular work hours.

Best practices for successful OKR implementation

Adopting OKRs is not like start using a new task management tool. More than a tool, it is a way of planning and execution.

Follow these steps to understand how to adopt and manage OKRs in your organization effectively.

Set effective OKRs

  • Create SMART objectives

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. 

Crafting SMART objectives is necessary to provide clarity, direction, and focus to your OKRs, setting the stage for effective goal achievement.

  • Design ambitious and measurable KRs

KRs are the milestones or measurable outcomes that indicate progress toward achieving your objectives. To design effective key results, consider the following:

  • Ambitious: Aim for KRs that require stretching beyond the status quo. Challenge yourself and your team to reach higher levels of performance.
  • Measurable: Ensure that your KRs are quantifiable and can be measured objectively. Use specific metrics to track progress and determine success.
  • Actionable: KRs should be within the control of the individual or team. They should be actionable and reflect the actions and initiatives needed to accomplish the objective.
  • Aligned: KRs should be aligned with the corresponding objective. They should directly contribute to the achievement of the objective.
  • Balance quantitative and qualitative KRs

While quantitative KRs focus on measurable outcomes, qualitative KRs give you additional context and capture the subjective aspects of performance. Consider the following:

Quantitative KRs: These are numerical and easily measurable. They represent tangible outcomes, such as revenue targets, customer acquisition numbers, or product milestones. They provide clear visibility into progress and success.

Qualitative KRs: These capture subjective aspects and focus on the quality of work or customer satisfaction. They can include feedback ratings, employee engagement scores, or customer testimonials. They provide a holistic view of performance beyond numbers.

OKR examples with OKR creation steps and best practices

We’re considering a B2B Performance Management Software startup for this OKR example and goal-setting guide.

We’ll be creating OKRs for the Sales team here that is aligned with the key business objective of generating increased revenue.

Now let’s go through the process of creating this Sales team OKR step by step along with the best practices.

Objective: Increase annual sales revenue by 20%

Key Result 1: Earn $1 million in sales revenue from existing customers

Key Result 2: Obtain 50 new qualified leads per month

Key Result 3: Increase the conversion rate by 15% through improved sales techniques and processes

Step 1: Define your Objectives

Increase annual sales revenue by 20%

  1. Start with the company’s mission and strategy. 
  2. Focus on the specific and clearly defined outcomes, not the tasks.
  3. Make inspiring and aspirational objectives that push the team beyond their comfort zone.
  4. Keep objectives aligned with the company objective.
  5. Make your objectives Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART).
  6. Leverage metrics such as revenue growth, number of new clients acquired, or average deal size increase.
  7. Limit the number of objectives. Set 3-5 objectives per OKR cycle.
  8. Create customer-centric objectives to be relevant to the business and customers.
  9. Seek input from everyone on the sales team before setting your OKRs.
  10. Ensure the whole team has aligned their role with the company and team objectives.
  11. Effective OKRs offer growth opportunities to each employee.
  12. Regularly monitor OKR progress.
  13. Retrospect at the end of OKRs to learn and improve your OKR-setting.

Step 2: Identify Key Results

KR 1: Earn $1 million in sales revenue from existing customers

KR 2: Obtain 50 new qualified leads per month

KR 3: Increase the conversion rate by 15% through improved sales techniques and processes

  1. Ensure your KRs are measurable
  2. Set clear specific milestones that reflect the desired outcome of your objective. For example, instead of “Make X calls,” use “Increase customer engagement by X%.”
  3. Focus on the specific and clearly defined outcomes, not the tasks.
  4. Utilize relevant Sales team milestones that align with the objective, such as customer acquisition rate and average deal size.
  5. Break down larger goals into smaller milestones to make progress effectively.
  6. Be realistic. Strike a balance between ambitious and achievable targets.
  7. Ensure KR’s alignment with the objective. It must contribute to the achievement of the corresponding objective.
  8. Set realistic deadlines with careful planning.
  9. Use a mix of leading and lagging indicators to measure progress. Strike a careful balance between them.
  10. Regularly review KR’s progress.

Step 3: Set an aspiration level

The aspiration level of an OKR is the degree to which it is challenging but achievable.

Aspirational OKRs should be ambitious enough to stretch your team and drive you to achieve great things, but they should also be realistic enough that you have a good chance of success.

It is important to note that the aspiration level of an OKR will vary depending on the specific goal and the team’s capabilities.

For example, a team that is new to OKRs may want to start with fewer aspirational OKRs, while a team that has been using OKRs for a while may be able to set more aspirational OKRs.

  1. Set stretch goals that encourage you to think bigger and aim for ambitious outcomes that significantly impact the business.
  2. Assess the opportunities and challenges specific to your industry to set a realistic but ambitious aspiration level.
  3. Engage your sales team in the process of setting aspiration levels.
  4. Analyze past performance data to establish a baseline for improvement and a stretch goal that pushes them beyond their previous accomplishments.
  5. Research and analyze the performance of your competitors to set realistic yet ambitious goals.
  6. Find the right balance between setting ambitious goals and ensuring they are achievable.
  7. Regularly review and refine your OKRs based on insights and feedback to maintain alignment and maximize effectiveness.

Step 4: Establish actionable initiatives

Initiative 1: Implement a customer success program to drive upsells and renewals.

Initiative 2: Launch targeted lead-generation campaigns on social media platforms.

Initiative 3: Provide comprehensive sales training to enhance skills and techniques.

Actionable initiatives are the specific steps you need to take to achieve your KRs.

They help you break down your Key Results into smaller, more manageable steps.

They also help you to focus on achieving your KRs and avoid getting sidetracked by less important tasks.

  1. Align your initiatives with the specific KRs. Ensure they directly support and contribute to the achievement of KRs.
  2. Break down your KRs into manageable tasks or activities.
  3. Define clear actions and use specific and action-oriented language to describe the initiatives.
  4. Clearly define roles and responsibilities to ensure accountability and drive implementation.
  5. Set realistic deadlines for each initiative by considering the urgency and priority to ensure timely progress.
  6. Allocate resources by assessing the resources required for each initiative, including time, budget, and personnel.
  7. Monitor the progress of the initiatives and their impact on the KRs.
  8. Continuously review and adjust the initiatives based on performance insights and feedback.

Establish a culture of accountability and transparency

  • Promote individual and team accountability

Some methods to encourage accountability:

  • Clear employee roles and responsibilities

Ensure each employee understands their roles and responsibilities within the OKR framework. Remove any doubts before they start implementing on their OKRs.

  • Set clear expectations

Communicate the desired outcomes, deadlines, and performance standards for OKRs. When everyone understands what is expected of them, holding individuals accountable for their contributions becomes easier.

  • Routine check-ins

Conduct regular check-ins to review progress, discuss challenges, and provide support. These meetings create a sense of accountability and allow for course corrections if needed.

  • Facilitate transparency in OKR progress and results

Here’s how you can encourage transparency in the OKR process:

  • Public OKRs

Make OKRs accessible to everyone in the organization. This visibility helps align teams and departments, promoting a shared understanding of the organization’s goals.

  • Routine progress updates

Encourage employees to update on their OKR progress frequently. Do this through status reports, shared dashboards, or team meetings. These transparent updates facilitate collaboration across teams.

  • Share feedback regularly 

Encourage employees to seek feedback from their peers and managers on their OKR progress. Additionally, create a work environment where feedback is valued and constructively provided.

  • Recognize and celebrate achievements

Follow these practices to recognize and celebrate OKR achievements:

  • Acknowledge publicly

Celebrate individual and team accomplishments by publicly acknowledging their efforts. This boosts their morale and encourages a sense of pride in the work accomplished.

  • Reward your employees

Implement a rewards and recognition program tied to achieving OKRs. This can include bonuses, incentives, or non-monetary rewards. Such initiatives further motivate individuals to take ownership.

  • Encourage learning from failure

Create a culture where failure is seen as an opportunity for growth and learning. Encourage employees to share lessons learned from challenges or setbacks. Openly discussing failures helps foster a culture of continuous improvement and accountability.

Continuously learn and improve

  • Collect and analyze the data

Drive informed decision-making and identify areas for improvement with these methods:

  • KR metrics

Track key metrics that align with your KRs. Regularly collect and analyze data to gain insights into progress, performance, and trends. This approach helps you identify areas of success and areas that require attention.

  • Learn from the feedback

Establish feedback mechanisms to gather insights from team members, stakeholders, and customers. Active feedback helps you gain valuable perspectives that can inform your OKR strategy and drive improvement.

  • Utilize tools an d technology

Leverage the relevant tools to streamline data collection and analysis processes. This can help you visualize data, identify patterns, and draw meaningful conclusions.

  • Iterate and refine OKRs using the feedback

Incorporate feedback and make adjustments using the following methods for iteration and refinement:

  • Routine OKR reviews

Conduct periodic OKR reviews to assess progress, identify challenges, and determine necessary initiatives. Encourage open discussions and allow employees to provide feedback and suggest improvements.

  • Use agile methodologies

Embrace the concept of sprints for relevant teams, where OKRs are set for shorter timeframes, enabling teams to learn, adapt, and refine their approach continuously and efficiently.

  • Retrospect and grade OKRs in each cycle

Retrospect at the end of each OKR cycle to reflect on what worked well and areas of improvement. Encourage employees to share insights and lessons learned. Grade your OKRs based on the quality of performance and aspiration level.

  • Promote a growth mindset and embrace challenges

You can use the following methods to foster a growth mindset:

  • Provide more learning opportunities

Give access to training programs, workshops, and resources that support skill development and personal growth. Promote a culture where employees seek learning opportunities and expand their capabilities.

  • Embrace challenges and setbacks

Encourage employees and teams to embrace challenges as growth opportunities. Support risk-taking and experimentation to facilitate innovation and continuous improvement.

  • Celebrate learning and progress

Recognize the efforts made by individuals and teams to learn, adapt, and improve. Create a supportive work environment where mistakes are seen as opportunities for growth and resilience.

Common challenges to OKRs implementation and overcoming them

As any organization, you face unique challenges to OKR execution among your team, but we have listed some common of these challenges to help you be best prepared for OKRs.

Lack of clarity and employee alignment

Without clear expectations and goals, employees can become disjointed, leading to inefficiencies and reduced productivity. Follow these methods to establish clarity and alignment:

  • Communicate clear expectations and goals

Overcome the lack of clarity with these methods:

  • Define clear objectives

Set clear and concise objectives that outline the desired outcomes. Objectives should be SMART. Communicate these objectives to everyone.

  • Break down objectives into KRs

Break objectives down into clear KRs. Communicate the KRs to employees, ensuring they understand the specific targets and milestones.

  • Align employee goals with team and company objectives

Encourage employees to align their individual goals with the team and organizational objectives. This promotes a shared purpose and ensures everyone works towards a shared vision.

  • Establishing alignment across teams and departments

Use these methods to achieve the above:

  • Facilitate cross-functional collaboration

Support cross-functional discussions, knowledge sharing, and team problem-solving sessions. This promotes employee alignment and ensures teams work together toward shared outcomes.

  • Cascade OKRs

Implement OKRs from the top level down to the team and individual levels. This ensures that everyone’s efforts are coordinated.

  • Set clear interdependencies

Communicate the interdependencies between teams and departments. Communicate how the success of one team impacts the success of others.

Overemphasis on action vs. outcome

While taking action is crucial, aligning those actions with desired organizational outcomes is more important. Let’s see how you can achieve key organizational goals with outcome-aligned actions.

  • Shift focus from action to an outcome-oriented mindset

Cultivate a results-oriented mindset within your organization with these methods:

  • Define clear outcomes

Take enough time to articulate what success looks like and how it will be measured. This clarity allows teams to align their actions with the desired outcomes.

  • Communicate “Why”

Ensure that every employee understands the purpose and importance of the desired outcomes. When individuals clearly understand the broader objectives, they can make more informed decisions and practical actions.

  • Measure progress regularly

Regularly review the progress made toward the outcomes. This reinforces the importance of aligning actions with the desired outcomes.

  • Encouraging experimentation and innovation

Foster a culture that values experimentation and embraces calculated risks with these methods:

  • Establish psychological safety

Build an environment where employees feel psychologically safe to take risks and share innovative ideas. Welcome open dialogue, constructive feedback, and learning from failures.

  • Empower autonomy

Trust your teams with the autonomy to make decisions and experiment. Empower them to unlock their potential to find innovative solutions and drive outcomes aligned with the company.

  • Celebrate and learn from failures

Encourage employees to analyze their failures, extracting insights to inform future actions. Reframe failures as stepping stones toward success.

  • Balance actions with long-term objectives

To get the desired outcomes, aligning your short-term actions with long-term objectives is crucial. Use these methods to achieve this:

  • Align actions with KRs

Regularly evaluate and prioritize actions that directly contribute to achieving key results.

  • Break down objectives into tangible milestones

Create small and actionable milestones that lead you to long-term objectives. This gives your employees a roadmap and regular checkpoints to ensure alignment and progress toward the desired outcomes.

  • Continuously analyze and adapt

Adjust and adapt strategies to stay on the path toward long-term objectives. Adopt the flexibility of the OKR framework to pivot and realign actions as required.

Resistance to change and implementation barriers

  • Overcoming change management challenges

Change can be unsettling for employees anywhere. To overcome their resistance, you can try these methods:

  • Make employees aware

Communicate the need for change, articulate the benefits, and explain how OKRs can drive alignment, focus, and results. This helps you set the foundation for buy-in.

  • Support open communication

Welcome open dialogue, address questions and provide reassurance during the transition. This two-way communication approach helps alleviate resistance.

  • Offer leadership support

When leaders actively support and advocate for OKRs, it signals the importance of the initiative and encourages employees to adopt the framework.

  • Engage all the stakeholders in the process

Use these methods to engage them:

  • Include employees in goal-setting

Involve them in defining OKRs so that they become more invested in the outcomes and understand the direct impact of their contributions.

  • Share feedback and address concerns

Make it easy for employees and stakeholders to provide feedback, share concerns, and offer suggestions. Actively listen to their inputs and address any concerns.

  • Collaborate cross-functionally

Work together toward common objectives, break down silos, and promote a sense of shared purpose. This collaboration reinforces the OKRs as a unifying force within the organization.

  • Offer training and support for OKR adoption

Follow these methods to provide effective OKR training:

  • Conduct OKR training programs

Provide practical guidance on setting OKRs, tracking progress, and the best practices.

  • Establish OKR champions

OKR champions in your organization can be resources for questions, share success stories, and help troubleshoot related challenges.

  • Provide the OKR management software

Implement an employee-friendly OKR software that simplifies OKR management.

Did you know you can get the OKR software, the OKR-related training, and more from JOP? Get on a call with us to know how it will work for your business.

How OKRs help you grow your business?

  • Generate more revenue

Setting revenue-focused objectives establishes a clear target for your team to strive towards.

KRs tied to revenue metrics, such as sales targets, customer acquisition, or average deal size, provide measurable milestones to track progress.

This focus on revenue growth ensures that your team is aligned and consistently working towards driving business success.

  • Employee growth and development

OKRs create a work environment that promotes continuous learning and development.

Setting OKRs related to skill development, training, or cross-functional collaboration encourages employees to expand their capabilities and become more versatile.

  • Positive work culture and employee engagement

By involving employees in goal-setting, OKRs create a sense of ownership and accountability.

When individuals understand how their contributions impact the overall business objectives, they become more engaged and motivated to perform better.

Increased employee engagement leads to higher productivity, innovation, and business growth.

  • Streamlined company operations

By setting OKRs related to process optimization, cost reduction, or resource allocation, you can identify and eliminate inefficiencies within your organization.

KRs tied to operational metrics allow you to track progress and make data-driven decisions to enhance productivity and maximize output.

  • Onboarding more customers

Setting OKRs related to customer acquisition, retention, or satisfaction creates a customer-centric mindset within your organization.

KRs tied to metrics like new customers acquired or customer feedback ratings focus on customer success.

By consistently meeting or exceeding customer expectations, you build a reputation for delivering value, leading to customer loyalty, retention, referrals, and business growth.

Real-life example of successful OKR implementation

Let’s look at a company that transformed its business with OKR Implementation and never stopped growing, even in an uncertain period like the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prezi is a presentation software company founded in 2009 by Adam Somlai-Fischer, Peter Arvai, and Gyorgy Buzas.

They experienced significant growth and success in the education and commercial business space before 2015.

Presently, Prezi has expanded its customer base and is used by over 100 million people worldwide.

The company is headquartered in Budapest, Hungary, and has offices in San Francisco, London, and Tokyo.

Challenges faced by the Prezi

  • Limited customer base

Prezi’s main product primarily catered to individuals in the education and commercial business space, limiting the number of users.

  • Integration challenges

Seamless integration and coordination were required when merging with acquired companies like Infogram to create a cohesive product experience.

  • Identifying and establishing success criteria

Creating a common Objective and defining success criteria were necessary to justify the resources and efforts invested in specific initiatives like coordinating with the Infogram team.

  • Adaptation to user needs in the pandemic

They observed a change in user behavior during the pandemic, with increased usage of Prezi for live video rather than recorded video. This required them to pivot their focus and improve the user experience for live video.

Implementing OKRs at Prezi

Jim Szafranski, Prezi’s former COO, and current CEO, learned about OKRs while he was an MBA student at Stanford Business School, where the father of the OKRs himself, Andy Grove, was a professor.

Szafranski introduced OKRs to Prezi in 2016, and the company has used the framework ever since.

He wanted to drive business growth and establish consistent and repeatable practices for the team.

Prezi aimed to expand beyond its existing customer base in the education and commercial business sectors.

Prezi embraced a quarterly cadence for their OKR cycles, providing a structured framework for setting and tracking objectives.

The management team, led by product and marketing, collaborated to define the Objectives while involving a diverse group of managers and individual contributors to establish the KRs.

The implementation of OKR processes at Prezi facilitated alignment and unity, particularly during the integration of recently acquired visualization software, Infogram.

Effectively coordinating the seamless integration of Infogram into the Prezi platform, called Prezi Design, required active collaboration between the existing Prezi team and the newly onboarded Infogram team.

By clearly defining a common Objective and determining the criteria for success, the team focused their efforts and allocated resources toward achieving the desired results.

The KRs for the Prezi Design integration project identified the specific user success and business outcomes necessary to validate the efforts invested in the pre-acquisition Infogram product.

The OKR structure provided crucial guidance and served as a unifying force for the team, allowing them to collaborate, explore, design, and ultimately launch a highly successful integration solution in the form of Prezi Design.

With the 2020’s global shutdown, Prezi recognized the shift in user behavior. Users started utilizing the platform more for live video rather than recorded video.

In response, Prezi focused on improving the user experience for live video by seamlessly integrating Prezi with other video conferencing tools such as Zoom, WebEx, or Microsoft Teams.

Prezi became more flexible during the pandemic and adopted a regular context-setting practice influenced by the OKRs.

This practice allowed the engineering team to understand the customer’s struggles and needs and develop solutions that made the user experience seamless, enabling users to feel like they were using a single application.

The implementation of OKRs increased the data-driven mindset within the company, emphasizing the need to articulate goals and measure progress in terms of business metrics and user impact.

Szafranski believes OKRs are most effective when used to work towards a company’s overarching goal or North Star. By breaking down the goal into measurable OKRs, companies can align their efforts and cascade them throughout the organization.

Businesses must clearly understand their goals and determine the most efficient path to reach them. Simply adopting a tool like OKRs is not enough; it is crucial to identify and align priorities with the chosen framework, said Szafranski.

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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