How to craft good Objectives and Key Results in OKR and Run OKR on a Big Scale

My Key Takeaways from Running OKR on a Big Scale

David Theil
8 min readJul 13, 2023

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In a large organization, it is often difficult to create and use proper objectives and key results. Of course, you can quickly formulate objective and key results for a cycle, a year, or even longer, but to create objective and key results which allow easy execution and measurement of progress is another story.

Here is my experience with the difficulties of formulating good goals and key results.

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Background story

We introduced OKR to a quite large organization some time ago. We trained a hand full of volunteers to become OKR-Coaches. The workshops were three days long and consisted of everything you need to start your journey as an OKR coach — every event, theoretical background, and how good objectives and key results are formed. We elaborated on how these objectives can build on each other hierarchically from vision to strategic objective to yearly objectives to cycle objectives. And at the beginning, everything looked fine. After a while, in the first year, we started to struggle. Some teams didn’t meet their goals and others finished way too early. In addition, one of the goals of introducing OKR was that we focus on the essentials. However, that effect did not seem to occur. Many objectives led in very different directions. It was clear to us coaches that we had failed to set the right goals and key outcomes with our teams.

Hierarchy of Objectives and Matching Key Results

We implemented OKR to better execute our strategy and to focus on the vision and long-term strategic goals.

Before OKR our teams worked like this:

Every Department had its own sub-goals, and sub-strategies and worked in different directions. These different directions and strategies, department goals, and sub-goals lead to friction, efficiency loss, bad effectiveness, and even conflicts within the organization.

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