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OKR Templates: Key Traits and How To Put Them Into Practice?

The use of good OKR templates is an important element of the OKR goal-setting framework, contributing to its comprehensiveness. OKR templates can help you scale your goals across the organization. But what makes an OKR template good - understanding its elements and their importance.

If you have already set your eyes on the OKR goal-setting framework and you need a place to start, consider an OKR template. In the following paragraphs, we will concern:

  • What is an OKR template and what are its key elements?
  • How to create your first OKR template? What are some popular OKR template examples?
  • How do OKR and Kanban offer greater outcomes?

Let’s discuss the topics in more detail.

Why Do You Need OKR?

Aligning daily work with organizational goals is one of the OKR's major advantages. Strategic plans become easily sharable and relatable thanks to the transparency that OKRs create. The ability to easily track and monitor the progress of each objective contributes to a shared understanding of a common purpose.

Furthermore, alignment with the company plans has a positive impact on employee engagement and motivation. Through breaking down grander goals into actionable key results and their corresponding work items, OKR practices enhance team members’ ownership and sense of contribution.

The easy-to-use and simple implementation of the framework also accounts for its popularity in recent years. While implementing OKR requires an in-depth understanding of what objectives and key results should represent, the technique is successfully applied to small, medium-size, and large companies. By visualizing OKRs and connecting them to larger or smaller work items, the framework is easily scalable across large organizations.

What Is an OKR Template?

An OKR template is a document, dashboard, or hub that visualizes a team's goals as well as the key results of a team, department, or organization. An OKR board or a template facilitates the company-wide alignment between strategic goals and work delivery.

OKR Template Format and Key Characteristics

To start with OKRs, you can address the lack of transparency and alignment with your company’s strategy through an OKR template. There’s a variety of options for you to download, tutorials on how to craft your own templates, and OKR software solutions.

The important thing to remember when it comes down to creating a good OKR template is the format and its characteristics. Ensure that, whichever option you choose, your OKR template offers visualization of the following elements:

1. Defined Owner. The person, team, department, or organization that owns the specified objectives and key results.

2. Defined Time Box. Visible indication of the agreed-upon time frame the specified OKRs were written for.

3. Objectives. The specific, measurable, and achievable goals that the individual, team, or company has set to accomplish. Depending on your context, the number of objectives will vary.

4. Key Results. Key Results are used to evaluate and track the execution of each objective. They represent short sentences that need to be specific, realistic, and measurable.

5. Progress Indication. Progress bar or percentile is used to track the completion of each objective.

Here's an example of an IT Operations team OKRs.

it operations team okr templateIT Operations department OKRs template made using MS Excel

Individual teams will further break down each key result into specific deliverables that will be the building blocks supporting the objective. With an appropriate OKR software solution, you can gain automation capabilities and real-time status updates on top of visualizing the hierarchy between strategic plans, team goals, and individual contributions.

Get Started with an OKR Template

Here are a few examples of OKR templates that can be adjusted to use in different contexts depending on your function, department, or organizational role.

document okr templateOKR template example made using MS Word and Google Docs

The template includes the most important data and provides a general overview of the actual goal and its key results, who is the owner and what is the set time frame.

OKR Goal-Setting Template in Excel Sheet

Referring to the example of the IT Operations OKR listed above, you can copy the template and modify it to your specific work environment. You can create the same OKR template in Google Sheets or in a basic Microsoft Word document.

OKR Tracking Template

To closely monitor the progress of each objective, you can adjust your OKR template using one of the OKR scoring methods. The approach is suitable for tracking the level of execution of each key result in a given time frame (e.g. quarter). You can grade the performance on a weekly basis and get a final score of the completion of your objectives.

Traditional OKR grading employs a scale from 0.0 to 1.0 and color-coding to rate the level of success reached for each key result. To arrive at the final score of your objective, sum up the weekly scores of your key results and divide them by the number of weeks.

Looking at the example below, to get the final score of the objective 1, the formula would look like this:

Objective 1 Final Score = (Key Result Score for Week 1 + Key Result Score for Week 2 + Key Result Score for Week 3 + Key Result Score for Week 4) /4

okr template for trackingOKR template for tracking and scoring completion

Using Kanban to Support OKRs and Put Your Templates into Action

The Kanban method is famous for its visualization practices and its ability to create work transparency across organizations. With the help of multiple Kanban boards on different management levels, you can visualize different objectives and key results across the company. One example is to create interconnected Kanban boards that store different types of OKRs (company-level OKRs, team-level OKRs, etc.) and link them to their corresponding projects, initiatives, deliverables, or other work items. This way, you can create a complete structure that enhances visibility into the main business priorities and enables better adaptability to any emerging changes in strategy or key objectives.

Portfolio Kanban schemeConnecting OKRs on strategy, program, project, and team level using Kanban

Furthermore, the Kanban method supports self-organizing teams and along with the high-level objectives and key results, it helps people become more responsive without having to micro-manage them.

With the visualization capabilities of the Kanban boards, you can also put your templates into action. For example, while creating your templates in Excel sheets might be a good start, this method alone is not actionable enough to turn your OKRs into reality. A better way would be to map those templates in a central OKR Kanban board where you can connect the objectives to those daily work items that influence their actual execution. Having the appropriate tooling will enable more efficient tracking of your OKRs and allow you to measure progress toward achieving your goals.

In Summary

An OKR template can help you to streamline and put into practice the objectives and key results goal-setting framework. The critical elements of OKR templates include:

  • Owner
  • Time-frame
  • Objective(s)
  • Key results
  • Status (progress)

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