Prioritizing goals is mandatory for the success of any business. Objective and key results (OKRs) can serve as a powerful methodology if you are trying to prioritize goals.
In OKRs, Objectives define the future outlook of an organization. These serve as the vision for the company where it sees itself in the future.
Key Results define the most fitting and encouraging path that will help the organization reach its objective in minimum time with available resources.
Why prioritizing goals is essential?
“Good things happen when you set your priorities straight” –Scott Caan
An organization always has multiple goals to take care of. These goals may appear equally important when seen with a shallow eye but, may be considerably different when thoroughly analyzed.
Every organization has limited resources dedicated to the achievement of certain goals. Therefore, it becomes extremely important to prioritize the goals so that the resources do get exhausted in acquiring the not-so-important goals, leading to business loss.
Prioritizing goals helps you to put the time, money, and resources of the organization into better use. It helps the organization to move forward toward success at a greater pace.
Thus, by prioritizing goals an organization decides the focus for the investment of their resources and increases the productivity in the same direction.
Eisenhower Method Vs OKRs
The Eisenhower Method is known for setting priorities. This method uses questions that define priorities based on two factors i.e. urgency and importance.
It majorly focuses on segregating tasks by asking questions like: Is it important? Is it urgent? The questions are simple and straight and are asked separately about each task.
If the answer to these questions is a “YES” then the organization must set that goal as their priority and work towards achieving it.
The Eisenhower Matrix has four quadrants that categorize the tasks into four types. It is drawn as given below:
This method helps you frame the to-do list in the sequence of priority by dividing the goals into four quadrants. They are Urgent, Not-urgent, Important, and Not-important.
Even when this method is used by several organizations, there are certain drawbacks associated with it that cannot be ignored.
First, other than urgency and importance this method skips the other major details related to a task like how significant the task is for the overall success of the organization.
Moreover, this method is silent on how to prioritize tasks if they land in the same quadrant. For example, if there are two goals that are both urgent as well as important, you cannot mark them as first or second in the priority list based on the Eisenhower method.
Also, it does not pay attention to how these priorities should be achieved.
On the other hand, OKRs use multiple factors for prioritizing tasks other than just being urgent or important such as aligning and depending on goals.
Further, OKRs work towards prioritizing goals based on their actual relevance in achieving bigger organizational goals.
OKRs do not just help in prioritizing goals but also set key results that establish a path for achieving these goals.
Moreover, the key results are also divided into different categories to make the process of prioritizing goals simple and efficient.
Steps to prioritizing goals using OKRs
Every task in the long list of goals that you have in your mind for your company can be important. However, going through the requirements of these tasks will help you segregate which tasks require your attention immediately and which can be put on hold.
In this section, we will share with you four useful tips that are simple in execution but immensely powerful in bringing out results.
1List out the goals
There should be different lists for personal goals, team goals, and bigger organization goals.
You can only decide your priorities when you clearly know the goals that you want to achieve. This list will help you look at all the goals simultaneously and conduct a comparative analysis about which of them is more important.
The list should not only list the goals but also the time limit within which they should be achieved. This will help set the priorities based on both importance and urgency.
2Categorize goals with OKRs
When you have a list of goals ready, the next step is to categorize these goals with objectives. These can be put into the following categories:
Aligning OKRs: While setting the OKRs the objectives must be prioritized by aligning OKRs with the goals. This is true for all types of goals i.e. individual goals, team goals, as well as organizational goals.
Have an open discussion with your team on how they intend to set their OKRs and align them with the bigger goals.
Depending OKRs: The depending OKRs are the non-aligning objectives. Everyone in an organization is working towards achieving a mutual goal i.e. the bigger goal of the organization. Hence, it is always good to help each other.
Once your aligning OKRs are achieved, the next step is to complete OKRs that may be required by the other members of the team or by other teams to achieve their goals.
Urgent & important OKRs: Taking the right suggestions from the Eisenhower Method, you can categorize your goals as urgent and important.
Often urgency and importance are confused with each other. However, while prioritizing your goals it is extremely important to keep the meaning of these words very clear in your mind.
The tasks that are urgent may not always be important. Similarly, some tasks may be very important for the company but are not urgent.
The urgent and important OKRs include the objectives that are required to be accomplished at the earliest and serve a very important role in the overall success of the organization.
Important but not urgent OKRs: Next in the list appear the OKRs that are important for the company but do not have any time constraints.
This means that the objectives have a bigger impact on the overall company progress. However, they can be put on hold for a number of reasons such as gathering required resources, building an efficient team, etc.
Not important but urgent OKRs: There are certain objectives that may require immediate attention. However, they do not have a significant role in the bigger company goals.
Many team leaders commit the mistake of investing limited resources in resolving these issues. This is why a proper check should be done about an objective to analyze whether it is only urgent or important as well.
3Define key results for each objective
When the objectives of your OKRs are ready you will now have to define the key results for each objective. The key results can be described as follows:
- Gradual key results: These are the key results that do not have much impact on the achievement of goals but they also do not require much effort. These are also called incremental key results.
- Draining key results: These key results require a lot of energy, effort, and hard work without giving much return. These are also sometimes referred to as money pits.
- Cinchy key results: These key results are capable of affecting the progress incredibly without putting in much effort. These are also denoted as easy wins.
- Significant yet challenging key results: These key results require a lot of energy, effort, hard work, and at times enormous resources. However, they are equally impactful and bring great results. That is why they are also called big bets.
The ideal strategy to choose key results for a quarter includes a large number of Cinchy key results, a few gradual key results, 1 or 2 big bets that are significant as well as challenging, and no draining key results.
4 Double check
While choosing OKRs you are actually deciding your priorities and how will you invest your time and resources to achieve them.
Therefore, before you finally decide upon the OKRs you must ensure that the objectives and key results are chosen correctly.
Also Read: How to Drive Performance with OKRs in 11 Easy Steps
“In order to say yes to your priorities you have to be willing to say no to something else” – Kylo
The success of objectives and key results implemented in an organization depends on setting correct priorities. Hence, setting a roadmap is a must before you begin.
We hope that the tips given in this blog will help you in Prioritizing goals using OKRs and we strongly suggest communicating with your team about these priorities so you can together work towards achieving them.