Read on to get an introduction to OKRs as a method, what the heck a Chief Operating Officer does and get inspired by OKR examples for Chief Operating Officers (COOs) that can be applied to your own company.
What is an OKR?
OKR stands for Objectives & Key Results and is a goal-setting method with a set of best practices. It emphasizes transparency, high ambition and a strong focus on results & data and is famous for being the method of choice of tech companies like Google and Twitter. Nowadays spread to a vast variety of industries, even non-profits like Bono’s ONE Campaign and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
How do you set an OKR?
The OKR consists of one Objective and a set of Key Results. The Objective can be seen as the small mission statement / the expectation of where you want to go, expressed in soft terms, whereas the Key Results are the factual results that needs to be accomplished to deem the Objective successful. In short, OKRs are a great way to clearly state “what success looks like“. Progress is then measured on each Key Result and is rolled up to an average profit of the Objective. It is recommended that you set between 2-4 key results per Objective.
In Node’s setup, OKRs are set everywhere in the organization where you want to drive and measure meaningful change and then aligned cross-functionally between roles, teams and departments using Focus Areas.
Who is the Chief Operating Officer?
The COO, short for Chief Operating Officer, is head of operations in the organization. This is the obvious part. What is not as obvious, however, is what Operations actually means.
Well, this is very different depending on the industry and the type and size of the organization. According to AQPC, operating processes entail Strategy, Developing Products, Market & Sell, Delivery and Customer Support, so pretty much everything that is not part of the support functions (such as HR, IT, Finance etc.). But if we are looking at your typical SaaS Org setup, operations are much more thought of as the supporting functions of your company’s main business. In this article we will define being chief of operations as leading the internal support functions mentioned above, but also specialist functions such as Sales Ops and Project Management Office.
The COO is a senior role, often 2nd in command next to the CEO. Go-to-market functions like VP of Sales and the CMO may report to them, but in our example they don’t.
Meaningful change for COOs
OKRs are about creating results towards a meaningful change, so what could be some good examples of this? Here are some common areas we’ve found:
- Improving time, quality and cost in projects
- Improving efficiency in handovers between departments.
- Enabling time to focus on execution of Go-to-market Strategy.
Useful metrics of meaningful change include:
- Success criterias of projects and product outcomes (CSAT score, % Budget variance)
- Reducing costs & error (# customer complaints, overhead costs)
- Improving efficiency (Lead time, story points)
- Measures of adoption within org (% of usage)
Of course, there are many other metrics for this role, but the above are some good examples of metrics that signal meaningful change and hence make out a good starting point for developing OKRs.
Setting OKRs for COOs
When you set out to create a role-specific OKR, knowing what the role is responsible for driving for the company as well as how that meaningful change is measured is a good starting point. Hence the two previous headlines. But you need something more. You need a current state.
Think about the current state of things, from the perspective of your role + the company. Ask yourself – what brings business value? We use the OKR Canvas as it lets you list the impact that you see you can achieve during the coming period, but also the blockers that are plausible and that you need to address. Sometimes, the impact is to remove a blocker. Check out the OKR Canvas to learn more.
OKR Examples for Chief Operating Officers
As stated above, OKRs should be used to drive meaningful change. Here comes a set of examples, with a corresponding introduction to the underlying reasoning behind the OKR (developed with the OKR Canvas):