Objectives vs. Key Results vs. Projects

There's a simple way to explain the difference between outcomes and activities in OKRs.

Objectives vs. Key Results vs. Projects

This is the written version of a short video that I published a couple of weeks ago 👇

When I explain OKRs I like to keep projects as part of the picture. It makes it easier to explain the relationship between the 3, and it's a simple way to map existing initiatives to the newly created OKRs.

  • Objectives: what you're trying to achieve.
  • Key Results: how you're going to measure progress on your Objectives.
  • Projects: how you're going to move the needle on your Key Results.

Good KRs should help you judge if you're getting closer your Objectives. They act as weekly signals that tell you if you're on the right track, or if you need to change your plans.

Another thing worth talking about is the lifecycle of each item.

Your Objectives need to capture the impact that you want to have at the end of the quarter, and they should be fairly resilient.

Your Key Results are a bit more flexible, and that's because it's quite hard to pick metrics and set the right targets. There will be times when you'll realize that some KRs are pushing you in the wrong direction, and it'll be ok to change them.

Your projects should change. They're bets you make to improve things for your customers. Some things will work, double down on them. Some things will fail, and it's fine to drop these initiatives.

What's next?

You might have seen it already but we have an OKRs guide for startups that gives you practical tips to adopt the framework gradually.