OKRs: Objectives and key results for 2016Q4

Posting weekly reflections proved to take more time than I can currently devote to them. I hope someday soon I can develop that practice. Instead, I want to focus on quarterly planning using objectives and key results, or OKRs.

What are OKRs?

Objectives and key results that push you to develop aspirations and quantifiable results toward achieving them. For me, OKRs bridge the gap between setting quarterly goals and developing projects and assigning daily tasks. If the system works for Uber, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Zynga, it deserves a try.

Google points out a few, simple keys to successfully implementing OKRs:

  1. Have about three objectives seemingly just beyond the reach of what you think you can achieve;
  2. Have about three key results per objective, toward which you can easily and quantitatively measure success;
  3. Post the OKRs publicly to ensure accountability and coordination; and
  4. Track progress toward achieving OKRs and update as necessary.

The real key to using OKRs involves assessing progress. Google suggests a goal of achieving 60 to 70 percent of the key results. Achieving more means sandbagging, or setting goals too easy, whereas a lower success rate indicates either needing to work more or revising truly unreasonable goals. This requires adjusting your perception of “failure,” especially for academics who may be used to 60 percent as the lowest passing grade.

My OKRs for 2016Q4

Today begins the fourth quarter of 2016. My first set of OKRs include the following:

  1. Publish three papers. I currently have one co-authored paper in the later draft stages and one in the early draft stages, and a solo paper in the draft stages. I doubt I/we can get them published published in three months, but that’s the point!
    1. Write 500 words every weekday. My teaching schedule severely restricts my time to reflect and write, so I need to emphasize this more in my schedule.
    2. Read and memo three articles per week. I use a modified workflow based on Raul Pacheco-Vega’s memoranda process.
  2. Win a teaching award. I haven’t won one of these yet, and I know I teach well.
    1. Apply for the online teaching award.
    2. Publish the IR scholar database paper.
    3. Publish a guest post on ALPS.
  3. Lose twenty pounds
    1. Keep up with counting calories. I did this for months with the Lose It! app, but for the past few weeks I stopped keeping up with it.
    2. Walk an average of 7,500 steps per day.
    3. Run a 5k three times per week.

I wanted to cover the three main areas of my individual (non-family) life: research, teaching, and wellness. That said, like Google, any group or organization, whether a large company or a couple, can develop OKRs.

Jeremy L. Wells

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *