How Startups Can Set And Achieve Game-Changing Goals With OKRs

Achieve Game-Changing Goals With OKRs

For many emerging startups, OKRs have turned out to be a game-changer. Many of them have now become household names that are catering to our day-to-day needs, like Uber, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  

An ambitious business strategy, proper financing, efficient management, and stalwart employees – is there anything more you need to pilot your startup towards success? Well, if you just said no then you’re absolutely..wrong! We kid you not, as per the best practices for goal-setting, there is indeed a crucial ingredient that you forgot while cooking your meal – making my start-up achieve its goal! All your sleepless nights and early mornings spent planning and working hard can get wasted and not lead your organization towards its short-term and long-term objectives. Wonder why? Read further to know about how a lack of an element is preventing your start-up from achieving its game-changing objectives. 

Achieve Game-Changing Goals With OKRs

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Covid has caused havoc in each and every industry. Especially for the startups, as they are grasping straws by compressing their budgets, scaling back on their resources, repurposing roles, and optimizing for a remote workforce. This has put the startups – without the large war chest that colossal organizations have – at the persistent risk of being thrown out of the ring altogether. All of this chaos has made the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) fundamental in providing your organizational teams with a blueprint for learning the ultimate mission and vision of the organization. OKRs hands you a framework that not only enables you to set measurable goals but makes them attainable as well. It enables the leaders to establish objectives (specifically defined goals) and one or more key results (quantifiable, concrete measures) that monitor the progress made towards attaining a particular objective. 

Being a universal, result-driven framework, OKRs assures an adequate work process for individual, teams, and organizations – irrespective of their size. Customize it as per the requirements of your organization and you’ll have a well-set route to follow to achieve your organizational objectives. For the leaders, the OKR system will allow you to maintain oversight of the main pillars of your business, to ensure that all are marching unitedly in the right direction. When you’re the founder of a startup, you’re bound to be bombarded with the question – Does your startup make sense? OKRs serve as a way to talk about the value your startup is striving to deliver and what ‘good’ actually looks like. 

Why should I use OKRs for my startup?

A common statistic that gets thrown around every now and then is that 90% of the startups result in failure. You may think that this number is exaggerated, and you might be right to some extent. As per a study done by Cambridge Associates on over 27,000 venture-backed startups, it was found that the number is still as high as 60%. Even this conservative number reflects that more than half of the startups fail. Overcoming these odds requires more than just luck and hard work. 

John Doerr – the prominent name behind the prominent book Measure What Matters describes an entrepreneur as the one who does more than others think is possible with less than anyone thinks is possible. To do this impossible, your startups must have a team that is focused, committed, and most importantly. aligned. You need to deploy the resources efficiently and use the time wisely. This is where OKRs in to the view – the cheat code that enables you to do it all! 

Startups that are in their early or middle stage are particularly the most vulnerable in this pandemic-affected world. If your early/mid-stage startup lies in the sweet spot of 10-100 employees, you should definitely implement the OKR goal-setting framework. Read on to take a glance at a few more reasons why your startup needs the OKR system: 

a) Gain sharper management insights and analysis

b) Focus on the high-impact objectives

c) Establish a culture of accountability and transparency 

d) Cultivate innovation and creativity amongst teams 

e) Align individuals and teams toward’s organization’s mission and vision

f) Push the entire organization beyond its limit

g) Improve allocation and management of resources

h) Provide room for pivoting and course correction 

How can my startups set and achieve game-changing goals with OKRs?

1. Establish BHAGs 

The hectic daily grind of a startup makes it easy to get caught up in the moment as you always have to be on your toes. No matter what industry your startup might belong to, by the time you are done with solving a problem, another one lines up before you can even catch your breath. In startups, the leaders get so occupied with putting out small fires on a daily basis that they always fall short of time and energy to even think about ways to stem the problems from arising in the first place. Being so focused on dealing with the acute issues sitting in front of you, the chances of your startup losing the touch with its ultimate vision soars high as ever. This is the reason startups that aim to thrive use BHAG (Big hairy audacious goal). All start-ups have goals, but many of them have goals that are uncompelling and vague. On the flip side, a BHAG is so specific and clear that it will promptly resonate with your employees and spur them into action. The contrast between an ordinary goal and a BHAG is the same between shooting for the star and shooting for the moon. 

2. Create a BHAG blueprint

This is where the key results component of the OKR approach begins to become functional. Let’s assume that your startup’s BHAG is to fabricate an industry-wide community of professionals. Such a North Star objective has the room to elevate your startup along with the entire industry. However, it might appear to be too far off the reach without layering metrics that can gauge and regulate the progress towards achieving the objective. Tracking key results will allow you to cultivate a proactive mindset. It will help your employees to acknowledge problems that take priority on a daily basis while keeping the big picture in mind. The fact is that if you do not regulate the progress of each day for the next several weeks, months, or even years, you won’t be able to take your startup towards the desired success. 

3. Harbor individual ownership 

You should consider setting BHAGs in a top-down manner for your startup. Once you conceive the startup’s vision at the highest level, break it down into tasks that each department has to execute quotidian to realize this overarching vision. After establishing the objectives for your organizational teams, you can delegate more specific objectives to individual employees while emphasizing how each employee’s effort contribute to the larger picture. When your employees become aware of how their contribution plays a role in an organization’s success, they get a sense of ownership in the organization. When your employees are autonomous, they’ll be less likely to feel micromanaged and more likely to increase their productivity and efficiency. This will give you substantially more managerial bandwidth. 

4. Set an effective cadence

Most often the factor that determines whether or not a startup achieves its ultimate objective is simply how frequently it measure its progress. For instance, if you are road tripping to a new location, the more often you check up on your progress on the map, the faster you are likely to reach your destination without derailing from your track. The reason many startups don’t gauge their progress is fear – fear of heading in the wrong direction or the fear that they have not covered as much ground as was anticipated. It is the fear of failure that prevents many startups from fetching the information they need to flourish. By expanding the cadence at which you gather the crucial metrics(key results), you will not only desensitize your team to fear but also increase their odds to achieve their objectives. Knowledge is the power the startups need to advance and OKR serves to do just that! 

Also read the difference between OKRs vs BHAGs.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the OKR system is the need of the hour if you want to unleash your startup towards growth and success. You know this already. So, what’s keeping you waiting? Don’t let your desire to wait hinder the progress of your startup and put it at the risk of failing. Get in touch with us today for proficient assistance regarding your OKR concerns! 

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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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