Why +10% may not be a good key result for your OKR goals

Objective key results, or short OKR, is a concept that is easy to understand but hard to master: You set an objective, such as "Increase user base", and define three key results, such as "Boost logins from 1% to 1,4%" or "Increase form submissions on the homepage by 10%". Easy peasy. But wait. It is easy to set a number, but what does that "+10%" mean exactly? And is it a good key result?

The 10% increase has to be something that you personally or your team can achieve. You want to rule out external reasons, such as seasonal factors or growth over the years or a special influencer such as Covid-19.

Let's take the "10% more form submissions" as an example and analyze it. Let's assume the following:

Was the "10% more" a good key result? Can you make sure that your team is solely responsible for the increase?

We can come up with several (hypothetical) reasons that could justify a "No, probably that was not a good key result!":

So the "10% more" key result is not specific enough as it does not define something that can be easily attributed to you.

So, which alternative key results do you have for the same goal ("Increase form submissions")?

The takeaway: Numbers are easy to set, but as both the goal setter and OKR manager, you need to dig deeper. What does "+x%" or "From x to y" really mean? Can the result be achieved by and attribute to the goal setter? Write down all your questions and objections and discuss this before setting a key result with a fancy number.

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