Whenever I start speaking about OKRs I can’t help to just compare them with KPIs to keep the conversation going. I wrote this article to stop me from doing that.
The thing is, KPI is a system for measuring progress and outcomes. I use it as a comparison so people can understand what I am talking about without an in-depth explanation. This is wrong because KPIs can mean many different things to many different people and can vary heavily from one team to the next.
What I like about OKRs is that it is a system that separates ‘what really matters’ from ‘what doesn’t’. It doesn’t prioritise, it separates. If everything becomes a priority, then nothing does. This is very much different from the norm where everything is added to a list and is assigned a priority level.
The letter k in KPI — and OKR — means key: Key indicates a few, but the most important few. The use of KPIs was supposed to force you to separate what really matters (the key indicators) from the rest, but many people forget that. If you have 30 so-called “KPIs” you don’t have any — you just have indicators. In OKR we limited the number of Key Results. One objective should have no more than five key results.
OKR is not about tracking every task, neither is it a checklist.
OKR is About
Creating Sustainable Change
OKR is not about tracking everything that you do, but it is not about focusing on one thing and dropping everything else either.
OKR is about changing behaviours, systems, tools, or processes in order to maintain high levels of performance.
So, achieving business goals requires STRATEGY, OKRs as well as KPIs.
Strategy is the process of deciding your destination. It helps you decide where you want to go. Think of a road trip, the stops, the destinations and accommodation.
OKR is your GPS, the navigational system of your car: it will help you track if you are on the right path, and course-correct if needed. And just like a GPS, OKR does not help you decide the destination, and it will not help you formulate your strategy.
Monitoring KPIs are the dials on the dashboard of your car — they tell you if everything else is OK.
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