The OKR Starter Kit: Goal-setting for your team
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The OKR Starter Kit: Goal-setting for your team
Your guide to planning and tracking team goals.
Last updated: 12/21/2020

This Starter Kit showcases free, time-saving templates focused on strengthening your OKR processes. And each template is customizable, so you can plan and track team goals in a way that works best for you.

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If you’re searching for a clear OKR definition, let’s get right to it:
O
bjective - a clearly defined goal
K
ey
R
esult - how you measure the success of your goal

And while you’re here, you should know that OKRs emphasize
specificity
. The more specific your key result, the better you can measure the success of your goal. And in that measurement, you have a range of levers to adjust, like metrics and timeframe. For example, some companies treat OKRs as stretch goals and aim for 70% completion, while others strive for 100% OKR achievement.

How are OKRs different from their alternatives, like KPIs, SMART goals, north stars, and signposts? While all goal-oriented, OKRs specifically emphasize
visibility and alignment on goals across the company
and team, as well as engagement on the creation and tracking of goals across all levels.

Learn more about OKR methodology in a doc created by John Doerr himself, the venture capitalist who adapted the framework from its inception at Intel for Google. And then explore these OKR examples to see how the smartest folks we know put their spin on it.


OKRs were developed for giant companies—passed from their creation at Intel to a newly-formed Google—but not everyone is setting goals for the next Google or Intel. With smaller teams, you have the opportunity to be flexible and try new things, to adapt the process for your culture and context.

Now it’s your turn. Here are the templates and insights you need to create the right OKR system for your team.

A strategic approach to OKR planning.

When planning OKRs, the framework calls for selecting a few high-performing initiatives and reprioritizing everything else. John Doerr suggests asking the following question to frame your discussions:

What is most important for the next three (or six, or twelve) months? What are our main priorities for the coming period? Where should people concentrate their efforts?

And while there are many ways to decide which initiatives matter most to your team, planning is the time for disciplined thinking. Even though it’s usually done in a short time frame, OKR planning isn’t a thing to rush, as noted by this Codan in an OKR-focused survey:

You can’t think you’ll get everything drafted, aligned, set, and resolved in one meeting, especially if you want to include the full set of POVs from your team. Some people need/want time to digest and to provide feedback offline or outside the chaos of a rushed meeting; others wish to whiteboard and shout their opinions. And then everything in between.

At Coda, OKR planning takes place in conversations across the company, and we lean on a few best practices to help us focus on respecting energy and time.

Unless this is the first time you’re setting goals, you probably aren’t starting from scratch. Still, brainstorming with your team—or even your entire company—sheds light on the collective perspective of where you’ve been and where you should be going. When the ideas start flowing, we find clarity in organization and prioritization with this interactive kanban chart. Add it to your doc by typing
/team brainstorm
.

Yes, you kanban. 👇

Add idea
Clear ideas
Uncategorized
Plan a virtual offsite
AC
Alan Chowansky
Create more actionable goals for 2021
LT
Lola Tseudonym
New product feature
Add a mobile app
FM
Felix Marlin
Launch a website chatbot
FM
Felix Marlin
Hiring
Revamp our job descriptions to take into account DEI best practices
LT
Lola Tseudonym
Hire more customer support to handle new customers
PR
Polly Rose

Not sure where to begin your brainstorm? This sentence starter template is our go-to when we need a bit of inspiration. While the default sentence starters certainly work, we find tailoring the selections to the specific conversation initiates authentic conversation. And don’t be afraid to add new sentence starters as the brainstorm evolves! Start your OKR planning mad libs with
/sentence starters
.

Although a simple tool, we find timers to be multifunctional in meetings, especially when planning OKRs. They keep discussions on track and prevent that sometimes-awkward “Sorry to cut you off in the middle of a sentence” exchange. Timers also break planning sessions into segments that are easier to process and help alleviate decision fatigue. You’ll generally find timers at the top of our docs, right where everyone can see them. Add one to the top of your next brainstorm by typing
/timer
.

After a fruitful brainstorm, you could have dozens of potential OKRs—great! But how are you going to prioritize them? According to this Codan, you’ll need two things:

(1.) Tools, and (2.) time to leave, review, and discuss comments and feedback thoughtfully.

You could also try a voting table, the template used in every single Coda meeting. This template shines during the OKR planning process as it works to equalize voices across the company. Uncover your goal alignment (or misalignment) with
/voting table
.

Cast your ballot. 👇

Add topic
Done
Idea
Author
Vote
Upvotes
Upvoters
1
What did we learn from last quarters OKRs?
AD
👍
1
1
ED
2
Do we have resources for every planned launch?
LT
👍
1
1
ED
3
What is the timeline on launching our customer feedback tracker?
BD
👍
0
0
4
Do we anticipate any scale issues next quarter?
FM
👍
0
0
There are no rows in this table

Another perennial favorite, sentiment trackers are essentially thermometers; they help you measure your team’s temperature. Everyone might be tired of brainstorming, concerned about metrics, or psyched for the upcoming quarter. But you might not know unless you ask. At Coda, we use these tables as a direct path to that feedback. We generally hide everyone else’s entries so that each person can focus on giving an unbiased assessment of the situation. And the overall sentiment score can help you decide where in the planning process to turn your attention to next. Take a pulse check with
/sentiment tracker
.

Documenting the planning process is almost as important as planning itself. Creating a living record of your brainstorms, discussions, and decisions provide context for future OKR planning, but they also provide visibility for stakeholders not directly involved in those conversations. Wherever you're consolidating your notes, whether in a doc or a single table, you might find our hack to share those notes helpful. We create email aliases as note archives and then email an entire page of notes with a single button. Try for yourself:
/email-a-page button
.

Add your email, hit the button, check your inbox. 👇

Email Address
2
<add your email>
3
<add your email>
There are no rows in this table
Email the addresses above

While the templates above help you plan correctly and with intentionality, we’d be remiss if we didn’t also include a tool for creating the goals themselves. We recognize that SMART goals and OKRs, while similar in some ways, differ in a goal’s reference point: SMART goals are created in isolation, and OKRS are created with macro and micro goals and timelines in mind. With that understanding, we use this template as a brief to dissect the specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based aspects of our OKRs. Be SMART about OKRs with
/SMART goals
.

You have OKRs. Now what?

Tracking OKRs provides continual perspective on the goal alignment established during the planning process. In other words, keeping track of progress toward your goals serves as a motivating factor to achieve those goals while also uncovering which focus areas are falling short. Over 50% of Codans referred back to their OKRs during the last quarter.
Created with Highcharts 7.2.2NeverOftenSometimes

It’s also worth noting that nearly 20% of Codans never thought about OKRs after the planning process. Because they’re probably not alone, we try to integrate goal tracking into existing workstreams whenever possible.

As one Codan remarked:

Without CrossDoc to refer back to throughout the quarter, OKRs would be a slog.

Our central OKR docs are generally inserted into the staples of everyone’s schedule with
, including one-on-one and team meetings. We keep them straightforward with this template: two connected tables that measure progress on both objectives and key results. Then, customize the tables using Coda’s building blocks, like views, charts, and Packs, to design a tracking system that highlights what’s important to that team or individual. Adapt your own
/team goals
.

Data visualization plays a large role in how people understand data. Timelines, otherwise known as Gantt charts, provide digestible snapshots of your timetable and signal when an OKR is “over,” part of the process a few Codans described as often missing. And with a bit of conditional formatting, colors can quickly communicate when a project is overdue, highlighting opportunities to adjust to meet your goals. Start building your
/timeline
.

Make the schedule, boss. 👇
Launch support chatbot.
Revamp our job descriptions to take into account DEI best practices
Plan virtual offsite.
Jul 1
Jul 8
Jul 15
Jul 22
Launch support chatbot.
Revamp our job descriptions to take into account DEI best practices
Plan virtual offsite.

Title
Start Date
End Date
Status
1
Launch support chatbot.
7/3/2019
7/8/2019
Done
2
Revamp our job descriptions to take into account DEI best practices
7/8/2019
7/19/2019
Active
3
Plan virtual offsite.
7/13/2019
7/17/2019
Pending
There are no rows in this table

Thankfully, Coda already plays nice with the other tools your team uses every day, like Jira. Connecting Jira Issues to your OKRs in a single table creates an instant feedback loop
and
visibility for any stakeholders who happen to peek into the doc. And in the name of transparency, work toward a goal is measured in an automatically-updating progress bar. Add this table to your doc by typing
/Jira issues with OKRs
and connecting the Jira Pack.

How many completed Issues does it take to reach a goal?👇

Goal name
Jira Issues
Jira progress
1
Roll out pricing beta to 20 users
Acquire budget
Conduct 30 customer interviews
2
Improve onboarding retention by 10%
Fix page load caching bug on Chrome
3
5,000 mobile app store downloads
Migrate from Azure to Snowflake
Maker-focused website design v3
Publish mobile app version 3.4 in app store
There are no rows in this table

Like SMART goals, KPI, or key performance indicator, is an OKR-adjacent framework focused on short-term goals. While they’re similarly focused on a goal’s success, you might remember that OKRs are stretch goals; you’re aiming for 70% completion. Pairing OKRs with KPIs' granular measurements might shine a light on how much your team is genuinely accomplishing. Create your dashboard with
/KPIs
.

OKRs can feel like a disruption to daily work, which might explains why over 50% of Codans surveyed describe their relationship to OKRs with this emoji: 😐. But with the right adaptation, OKR planning and tracking are a natural extension of everything your team does—and the OKRs themselves serve as motivation for forward momentum.

We’ll leave you with some Codan-shared advice in the hopes that our experiences can in some way shape those of you and your team.

Don’t:
List out every single thing you plan to accomplish.
Forget to reflect on prior OKRs to directly inform future OKRs.
State OKRs as a long to-do list of every task each person on the team plans to accomplish.

Do:
Have an understanding or solid reasoning as to why an OKR was made in the first place.
Find the right balance of ambitious yet attainable goals.
Share consistently to maintain accountability.

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