The UK houses some of the world’s great research universities and has a start-up culture that punches above its weight, but for decades it has remained the sick man of Europe when it comes to productivity. Britain may produce some “world beating” companies, British workers produce less value on average than workers in Germany, France, and Italy for every hour worked.

If the UK is to build an economy of the future, and one without the help of the European Union, then the productivity problem needs to be solved and quickly. Could OKRs help British businesses find a productivity boost?

What are OKRs?

OKR is an abbreviation for “objective and key result”, which was an idea coined by Andy Grove of Intel back in the 1970s. The term grew in popularity amongst Silicon Valley management teams over the decades, but it was only once Grove’s protégé John Doerr introduced them at Google in 1999, shortly after the company was formed. Today, OKRs are widely used by many of the largest technology companies in the world including Amazon, Spotify, LinkedIn, and Uber.

OKRs provide a framework for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes within an organisation. Essentially the framework helps management define company and team objectives and then measure key results against them. An objective helps answer the question “where do I want to go?” and a key results helps answer “how will I know I am getting there?”. ZOKRI’s OKR examples are a good selection of objectives and results many companies use to manage and track their progress.

OKRs help management see how the company is performing on a macro level alongside how each team and employee are performing on a more granular level, with achievements measured against “key results”. Critically, OKRs are regularly set, tracked, and constantly re-evaluated, making them a fast-cadence process to engage everyone within a team and benefit from their insights and creativity. If a boost in productivity is the end goal or objective, then each business needs to set the key results to measure their performance against along the way.

How to create and track OKRs

KPIs can be tracked using general list or to-do apps such as Trello or Google Sheets, but there a variety of more tailored tools on the market that make adding qualitative objectives and quantitative key results simpler, with fewer clicks, and easier to understand results. Some of the leaders in this space include Lattice, Perdoo, Weekdone, and ZOKRI, which will help track both OKRs and KPIs together in a single system.

OKRs vs KPIs

KPIs or “key performance indicators” are metrics that help businesses make smart decisions about the direction of all current projects. They can be a useful tool, but with the vast number of metrics available to track, businesses can lose sight of the company’s larger goals. In contrast, OKRs help businesses track smaller goals within the framework of the whole organisation rather than as independent, unrelated metrics.

OKRs can also help companies create a culture of performance, where teams and individuals see small but regular improvements, with small iterative improvements made during each period of evaluation. If Britain is going to boost productivity, then companies need to look at the performance of their business on a holistic level, not just via unrelated KPIs.

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