Create OKRs

1. Understand OKR fundamentals

Using OKRs effectively to achieve results usually takes a few cycles. As you start to define OKRs for the new quarter or year, remember:

  • OKRs should be data-driven, measurable, and committed, but your team should also be able to pivot (meaning delete, add, or modify OKRs) if circumstances change mid-cycle. This is especially true for your first few OKR cycles, as you learn how to set OKRs in your organization.
  • For improved focus, limit objectives at any levels to five at most. And no objective should have more than five key results.
  • Most team and individual OKRs will be cascaded from top-level organizational OKRs to ensure company-wide alignment. But you should also empower team members to define their own OKRs, including key initiatives and projects, based on organizational priorities. Make sure you're including individual team members in the collaborative process of writing team OKRs.

Here are three steps to start defining OKRs for your OKR cycle:

Step Description
Step 1: Leadership drafts organization's OKRs Involve key stakeholders to draft organization-level objectives and key results for the new cycle. Use your organization's mission, annual objectives and previous OKRs for context in drafting company OKRs. Publish these OKRs, and invite teams and individuals to craft their OKRs based on these top-level OKRs. Make sure everyone understands that you're seeking their input through the OKR process before the top-level OKRs are finalized.
Step 2: Teams and individuals draft their OKRs Teams and individuals should draft their OKRs based on top-level, organizational OKRs. In addition to looking at the top-level OKRs, they should collaborate with peers to identify any assumptions and dependencies, and resolve them.
Step 3: Review process for all OKRs Alignment is crucial to the OKR process. As long as your work lines up across the organizational network, vertically and horizontally, the company can make huge strides during any given time period. That's why it's essential to review OKRs with cross-functional teams. Once they're reviewed, make adjustments, lock your OKRs, and go into execution mode!

2. Create an objective

You can create an objective from:

  • The individual, team, and organization pages
  • The list page
  • The "Sample OKRs" template

To create an objective, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the individual, team, or organization that the objective is for. Select the + button.

    Screenshot shows where you start to create an objective.

  2. In the dialog box that opens:

    1. Enter a short descriptive name for the objective.

    2. Edit the details in the following table, if necessary:

      Item Description
      Type Specify the type as individual, team, or organization level, corresponding to where the objective fits in the organization.
      Owner The user who owns this objective. Every OKR should have a clear owner.
      Time period The quarter or custom time period this objective belongs to.
  3. Select create when you're done.

    Screenshot shows where you click done when you create a new objective.

Note

The Key results dialog box will look a little different if you've chosen to configure your OKRs with the Objectives are always aspirational, key results are always measurable option. You'll notice that the Create Objective view will just have the Progress pane. This is because when you configure your objectives to be aspirational and key results to be measurable, the progress of your objectives will be updated by roll-up from the progress of key results or manually.

Screenshot shows an alternative view of where you click done when you create a new objective.

3. Create key results

Key results contribute to achieving your objective. If all key results are accomplished, the objective is achieved, so choose your key results accordingly. Find the objective you just made, and select Add Key Result. This selection will allow you to edit inline.

Screenshot shows where you click to add a key result.

You can also hover over the objective and select Add key result from More options, which brings up a more-detailed dialog box.

The dialog box that opens will look familiar.

4. Jump start your OKR process with templates

Viva Goals makes it easy to jump start the OKR process by providing templates for common objectives across different verticals in an organization. To create an objective from a template, select See Sample OKRs, and then choose from our extensive library of presets ranging from sales and marketing objectives to people and product management.

Screenshot shows template options.

From here, you can tweak the template objectives or any other objective to your company’s specifications by using the handy "edit" functions available. You can also hover your cursor over the objective to access the Edit option.

Advanced options for creating OKRs

There are several advanced options you can use when you create OKR.

Specify how to track your objective's progress

For example, you can expand the Progress section and specify how to track your objective’s progress. Choose from the following options:

  • Measured as a goal towards 100% completion: Viva Goals will show the progress in terms of percent completed.

  • Add a metric: This option lets you set a custom KPI. You can define the metric, the target, and the starting point.

Use Viva Goals integrations

Viva Goals lets you automatically update the progress of your objectives by integrating with tools like Jira, Smartsheet, or VSTS.

Other advanced options

All the advanced customization options are available under More Options, no matter where you are in Viva Goals.

Option Description
Tags and descriptions Add tags to group similar OKRs together and enter a short description of the objective if necessary. For more information about tags, see Tags.
Private objectives and key results Control who can see your OKRs. For more information, see Private objectives & key results.
Objective delegation Designate another individual to keep this objective up-to-date. For more information, see Objective delegation.

Best practices for creating OKRs

The process of goal-setting with OKRs is flexible and adjustable. But a few best practices help ensure that teams have an unambiguous and focused set of goals to work toward.

  • Start by defining objectives at the organization level. These OKS reflect the top strategic goals that require collaboration and link various departments and teams within the organization.
  • Stick to three to five objectives at every level. Too many objectives distract from attaining the ones that matter.
  • Objectives must be actionable, yet aspirational. They're stretch goals that should make you feel slightly uncomfortable.
  • Every objective should have three to five key results. Together, key results must help realize the objective.
  • Every key result should be measurable. This ensures you can see progress, understand what worked and what didn't at the end of your OKR cycle, and use these lessons to drive more growth for your organization.
  • Alignment is a key aspect of the OKR process. With Viva Goals, team objectives can be easily aligned to company-level objectives. This is a key value of the OKR process.

Note

Key results of company-level objectives will cascade down to act as objectives at the team level only when you select the Objectives and key results can be used interchangeably option in the OKR Model Configuration section of the Admin Dashboard.

Remember that OKRs aren't a to-do list mandated by leadership. The OKRs you create in Viva Goals should be part of a collaborative process between leadership, departments, teams and individuals to deciding where to focus during any given time period.

Set annual objectives

What are annual objectives?

Annual objectives are specific, measurable statements of what a business is expected to achieve in an annual period. These objectives are usually one part or phase of the organization's longer-term goals, for example, the first-year objectives of a three-year growth strategy. This characteristic puts annual objectives in contrast to quarterly objectives, which tend to have a narrower focus and shorter-term deliverables.

Many companies find it valuable to set annual objectives to keep their broad vision at the forefront and use quarterly objectives to execute the steps toward that vision.

Write annual objectives

Writing annual objectives should feel different from writing quarterly goals. The larger scope lends itself to broad objectives, for example, "Raise market share by 5%." It's a good practice to set annual objectives at the organization level and use them in combination with quarterly objectives.

Each annual objective should have three to five quarterly key results. These key results should be department or team-level objectives (depending on the size of your company), to maintain alignment through the cascading hierarchy.

Team and individual OKRs are best left at a quarterly cadence. However, team and individual OKRs should be aligned to annual objectives.

Implement annual OKRs

1. First, go to the appropriate annual time period. By default, Viva Goals features annual time periods in the format Jan 1-Dec 31 20XX. But if your company follows a different cadence, you can set up a custom time period at Admin > Time Periods.

2. Write your organization-level objectives and key results. Write three to five key results per objective. Set the time period of each key result to the relevant quarter. For example, KR1 might belong to Q1 20XX, while KRs 2 and 3 belong to Q2. Chart the entire progress of key results that lead up to the top-level objective.

3. Set up team and individual-level quarterly OKRs. As team members make check-ins, Viva Goals automatically calculates progress toward your annual objectives. Maintain a bird's-eye view of the dashboards. Use views or the objective explorer to drill down and generate reports when necessary.

An example: In the screenshot below, we have the broad organization-level objective "Double revenue to $20M" in the annual 2021 time period. The KRs are set up as follows:

  • Q1 2021: "Increase ARR to $14M." Notice how this is the most ambitious of the key results.
  • Q2 2021: "Increase ARR to $17M."
  • Q3 2021: "Increase ARR to $19M."
  • Q4 2021: Finally, the last KR: "Increase ARR to $20M," which is the annual objective.

This setup breaks down a lofty goal into manageable, actionable pieces. The successful completion of all four quarterly key results will result in the completion of the overall annual goal.

Screenshot shows a sample of an annual objective broken down into quarters.

With your new annual objectives, you won't have to choose between the tactical value and focus of quarterly objectives and the strategic value and ambition of annual objectives.

Create committed versus aspirational OKRs in Viva Goals

The OKR methodology supports two types of goals, which are described in the following table.

Goal name Description
Committed OKRs These are OKRs that your organization or team has agreed to execute. There's a clear action plan for how they'll be achieved.
Aspirational OKRs These OKRs are more visionary. They're stretch goals, and teams aren't likely to fully achieve them.

Within Viva Goals, users can switch between aspirational and committed OKRs, though OKRs created by default remain aspirational. Committed goals have the Committed tag, which differentiates them from aspirational goals.

For committed objectives, 100-percent completion ensures a score of 1, and the range is marked in green. The color indicates that the user has reached the target that they committed to.

For aspirational objectives, if a team attains 100 percent of the target and thus closes an objective with a score of 1, the goal wasn't ambitious enough, and it's marked orange. An ideal aspirational OKR or a stretch goal should be challenging but attainable. A score of 0.7-0.9 is recommended.

Customize your scoring system in Viva Goals

Viva Goals has a setting so the administrator can override the default ranges for the color scheme that signifies OKR progress. The administrator can configure the scoring ranges against which the color schemes are mapped.

Screenshot shows scoring customization.

Copy or duplicate objectives

How to copy or duplicate a single objective

To copy or duplicate a single objective, follow these steps:

  1. Hover over the objective, and select Clone from the dropdown on the far right. Or, to copy from the objective page, select Actions > Clone. A dialogue box opens.
  2. Edit the time period, owner, and option to copy the objective and key results or just the objective.

By default, the cloned objective with all its key results will appear in the same time period as the original. The progress won't be copied over.

Screenshot shows where you chose to clone an objective.

How to copy or duplicate multiple objectives

To copy or duplicate multiple objectives, follow these steps:

  1. From your dashboard, select the checkboxes to the left of the objectives you want to copy. Only open objectives can be copied in bulk. Objectives that have already been closed must be copied individually.

  2. Select the Clone button in the message bar that appears above the list of objectives. Then select from the options in the dialogue box that opens.

Screenshot of the dialog where you clone multiple objectives.

Change the OKR owner

You can change the owner of an OKR from the OKR list view, quick view, or full view page. Select the Owner field to assign the OKR to a new owner.

Screenshot shows where you change the owner of an OKR.

  • You can assign multiple owners.
  • If there's one owner or multiple owners assigned to an OKR and you want a user within the organization to check in and update the progress of the OKR, you can use the "check-in responsibility" feature. The "check-in" owner can check in manually or set up an integration to automate this process.
  • With the Viva Goals Delegation option, you can assign another individual to check in on OKRs that they don't own. A delegate gets permissions to edit all aspects of an OKR and also work on behalf of the OKR owner on a specific objective. However, they can't change the ownership.

Edit or delete OKRs

If you need to change an OKR or remove one that was made in error, go to the drop-down menu in the upper-right corner of Viva Goal. Select Edit or Delete to make changes.

Note

An objective can't be edited or deleted if it's Postponed or Closed. In those cases, the objective must be reopened before you can edit or delete it.

Screenshot shows where you choose to edit or delete an OKR.

On the OKR page, expand the ellipsis (three dots) icon, and then select Print OKRs. Viva Goals also gives you the ability to export a .csv file from the Explorer.

Screenshot showing how to print an OKR.

Note

You won't see the Print option when multiple time periods are selected.