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Updated 29 Sep 2020

The key to goal setting

How do you track goals and keep everyone accountable? In Silicon Valley, everyone’s obsessed with OKRs. 

GG Van Rooyen, 05 October 2016  Share  0 comments  Print

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If it’s good enough for Google, it’s good enough for everyone, right? That certainly seems to be opinion in Silicon Valley. Since it became public knowledge that Google makes use of OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) when it comes to goalsetting, the system has grown in popularity tremendously. But what is it exactly? 

The system was introduced to the Google executives by John Doerr (who had made use of it at Intel) and could be described like this: It takes any goal – whether that be personal, departmental or company-wide – and turns it into an objective and a key result.

Related: Business goals worksheet


“When done right, goal setting is a very powerful tool. Every team member in the company can link their goals to the corporate goals, knowing that their work is having a direct impact on the success of the company.” – John Doerr

What’s an objective?

Broadly speaking, the ‘objective’ is the goal you’re aiming for. It should be big and audacious, and should consist of some kind of emotional component. A good example would be ‘to crush the competition’ or ‘attain stratospheric growth’.

What’s a key result?

A ‘key result’ is some specific metric that is tied to an objective. It should be measurable, and keep everyone accountable. So a key result might be ‘growing market share by 10%’ or ‘doubling the number of users’. 

Related: Business growth goal-setting exercise


The way in which OKRs are implemented is important. These goals should not be long-term – they should be fairly short-term. Also, deadlines should be hard. If they can be moved out, they lose all meaning, since all sense of urgency would be lost. Finally, OKRs tend to be public, which, once again, keeps everyone accountable. Even Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s OKRs at Google are purportedly displayed publicly.


Objectives and Key Results are a great way to keep everyone within an organisation focused and aimed in the same direction. For more information on OKRs, visit

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GG Van Rooyen

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