How Setting Safe OKRs Might Lead You To Nowhere

Nov 14, 2022
How Setting Safe OKRs Might Lead You To Nowhere

As a business, it is crucial to measure growth. Measuring growth helps you know where you stand, how far you have come, and how far you still have to go to meet your objectives (and set new ones). Furthermore, it is more important to know which growth factors to measure. This will help you find and gauge the growth of your business in the best possible way. 

If your business keeps measuring KPIs and it is not making a difference, then you might need another approach or perspective to business growth. Rethinking growth measuring is crucial to business growth. Developing strategies and plans to induce growth precedes measuring growth. To grow, businesses must be intentional about inducing it, and inducing growth means making plans and strategies to ensure productivity. Productivity means staff is working and the work is bringing results. Too many tasks could result in low productivity and cause lower engagement. 

Hence, the key is to note that it is better to have a few strategies which work than to have several (or not at all) important strategies that do not. 

According to studies, Committing to a goal can help improve employee performance, but research also shows that setting challenging and definite goals can increase employee engagement in achieving those goals.

This is where OKRs come in. 

What exactly are OKRs? Why are they significant? And how exactly do you use them? Is it just another business abbreviation? Or will it make things better in your organization? the way your company operates?

Read on to find out. 

What are OKRs?

OKRs stands for Objectives and Key Results. A simple definition goes thus: OKR is a system or framework used by businesses to set, communicate & ultimately achieve goals. 

OKRs comprise two key components: 

  • An objective is just WHAT needs to be accomplished

Objectives should be meaningful, concrete, action-oriented, and inspirational. They act as a medicine that cures ambiguous thinking and reminds you of the most important things you need to focus on. That way, you can eliminate or ignore everything else.

  • Key Results address and track how businesses arrive where they are

Effectual Key Results are time-bound, specific, and aggressive but realistic. Also, they must be quantifiable and verifiable. Businesses or staff either meet or do not meet the requirements of a key result; there is no doubt or middle position.

How Setting Safe OKRs Might Lead You To Nowhere

The pursuit of ambitious goals is vital to success when using OKR. Goals must be tough to achieve & they should go past the limits of what appears possible and force the team to reconsider how they work. 

If your OKRs are too safe, you’re not pushing yourself to achieve more. You might hit your targets, but you’re not challenging yourself to do better. And if you’re not challenging yourself, you’re not going to see much progress. In short, With safe OKRs, there is no end in sight.

So, if you want to make progress and achieve your goals, don’t be afraid to set some ambitious OKRs. Yes, there’s a risk that you might not hit your targets, but that’s okay – it’s all part of the learning process. After all, if you’re not failing sometimes, you’re not trying.

Also, keep in mind that OKRs are separate from compensation. So you can choose aspirational goals with confidence. Achieving 60-70% of your goal is considered a good result; achieving 100% means the task was not difficult enough. Low OKR grades should be viewed as data to aid in the refinement of the next OKR. 

Keep in mind that using OKRs is a trial-and-error process. It usually takes a company about six months to figure out the right OKRs.

How to ensure your OKRs are not too safe?

Below are ways to ensure that your OKRs are not too safe:

• When selecting OKRs, prioritize the objectives that have the greatest potential for outstanding (rather than average) performance. 

• Discuss your organizational OKRs with upper management before implementing them at the team and individual levels. This will ensure support on a general scale. Of course, you want to get upper management’s buy-in and support before communicating the OKRs to your teams. If upper management is not supportive, you risk having your efforts questioned and challenged, especially when they realize that it does not align with the company OKRs. 

• Create an environment in which employees are free to fail without being judged. If your organization has a culture in which failures are frowned upon and used against staff during performance appraisals, employees might prefer to go for safe OKRs to ensure they get praised and encouraged. It will be hard to push difficult OKRs on these same employees. 

• Set ambitious goals to arouse problem-solving skills in people and inspire teams for greater achievement. Businesses should do this even if it means some key results will be missed. However, one needs to know the difference between an unrealistic goal & a too-easy one. Ensure the bar is raised quite perfectly. When people believe they will fail, their morale suffers. Setting smaller & more achievable OKRs that allow people to visualize the end goal is vital.

• If any OKRs are penned down in five minutes or less, there is a probable chance that they are not good enough. It is crucial to think holistically and specifically about them.

• If your goal can’t fit on one line, it’s probably not clear enough. An OKR having more than two lines for description must be summarised in one sentence or line so that the OKR remains clear, short & simple. 

• Metrics are an integral part of tracking business growth. Numbers imply specificity. Hence, it is vital to ensure that the metrics are clear. 200,000 users daily or monthly? Should they be active subscribers or just the usual logins? Ensure you are overly specific, then work your way back. 


Setting clear & Smart goals is key to any business’s success. The OKR framework provides guidelines to help you get started best and get the most out of your operations.

OKR software registration

Get started

Get started with your 90-day free trial!