What is a good OKR score

In this article, we'll explore what should be the expected score for the OKRs and why it's not a good idea to have the above 100%.

Basic OKR scoring principles

Standard practice is that OKRs should be aspirational and motivate the team to achieve beyond what they think is possible. That's why it is typical that the average completion rate for the OKRs is somewhere between 60% and 80%.

However, there are a few challenges with such an approach:
  1. Missing all your goals can be demotivating, especially for the new teams!
  2. There can be critical interdependent OKRs that need to be completed 100%!
To solve these challenges, it's good to introduce different types of OKRs - moonshots, and roofshots.

Moonshots are the original aspirational-syle OKRs that are designed to motivate and are ok if achieved 70%.

Roofshots are the commitment-style OKRs, that the team targets to achieve 100%. Roofshots are usually the OKRs that are very important for the company milestones or are interdependent. For example - the release date of the new product should preferably be a roofshot, not the moonshot. Because if the team didn't release the product, a lot of other OKRs that depend on it (marketing, promotion, usability interviews, etc.) would fail as well.

Here's the table of the moonshot versus roofshot OKR scoring:
To learn more about the difference of roofshots with moonshots, check out this article.

Why it's not a good idea to have OKRs above 100%

We discussed how the OKR completion score should look like below 100%.
But what about the score above 100%? Does it make sense for teams to complete the OKRs above the target line?
The answer is NO.

There are two main reasons for it:
  1. Such OKRs are not ambitious enough, even for the roofshots.
  2. The OKRs above 100% rarely reflect the actual holistic progress of the team.
What do I mean about the holistic progress? According to the OKR methodology, each Key Result for the Objective should reflect how far the team progressed towards the goal. And none of the Key Results should be achieved at the expense of some other important metric for the company or product.

For example, if we set the Key Result for the marketing team to bring 10,000 new visitors, we should also put a Key Result about the acquisition cost of each user. And probably about the conversion rate of these visitors. So that the marketing focuses on the cost-efficient channels of new users. As well as on the relevant customers from our target audience (and not just some random folks from the internet).

Here would be our OKR example:
Objective: Bring new inbound leads to the website
Key Results:
  1. Increase the monthly visitors to the website from 10k to 20k
  2. Maintain the customer acquisition cost below $1
  3. Increase the visitor-to-trial conversion rate from 10% to 15%
In this example, if the marketing team decides to bring twice as many visitors and score that Key Result 200% at the expense of CAC - that doesn't mean that the team is doing great.

This is the holistic approach to OKRs. The weight of each Key Result should be roughly equal. And the great progress for one of them usually won't cover the lack of progress for another Key Result.

Summary

Scoring OKRs is an important part to reflect how well your team achieved the goals. Scoring and communicating the principles behind scoring would keep your team satisfied, engaged, and motivated to move on and achieve great results. Make sure you're doing it right.

Check out a free OKR tool Plai that allows you to set and manage your engineering Objectives effectively.
8 October / 2019
Author: Andriy Bas
co-founder & CEO Plai

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