OKRs and SMART Goals : When and Why they fail

OKR, or Objectives and Key Results, is a method for setting and tracking progress toward specific, measurable, and time-bound goals. The framework consists of two parts: objectives, which are the high-level aspirations an organization or individual wants to achieve, and key results, which are the specific and measurable steps needed to reach each objective. OKR was created by former Intel CEO Andy Grove and has been adopted by companies like Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The purpose of the OKR system is to align goals, focus efforts, and measure progress towards objectives.


SMART goals are objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. The acronym was coined in 1981 by George Doran and is widely used as a framework for setting and achieving goals. A SMART goal is clear, quantifiable, achievable, aligned with broader goals, and has a deadline. This framework can help individuals and organizations to focus their efforts, track progress, and achieve their objectives.

But neither are a perfect system and fail horribly for people at times.


One reason why OKRs can fail is if the objectives are not clearly defined or are not aligned with the overall goals of the organization. Without clear and aligned objectives, it can be difficult to determine what success looks like, and it can be difficult to motivate and engage employees in achieving the objectives.

Another reason why OKRs can fail is if the key results are not measurable or are not tracked consistently. Without clear and consistent measurement, it can be difficult to determine whether the objectives are being met, and it can be difficult to make adjustments or take corrective action if necessary.

Similarly, SMART goals can fail if they are not specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, or time-bound. For example, if a goal is not specific, it may be difficult to determine what needs to be done to achieve it. If a goal is not measurable, it may be difficult to track progress and determine whether it has been achieved. And if a goal is not attainable, relevant, or time-bound, it may be difficult to motivate and engage employees in achieving it.

Overall, both OKRs and SMART goals can fail if they are not properly defined, aligned, and tracked. To avoid failure, it is important to ensure that these frameworks are used effectively and consistently, and to regularly review and adjust them as needed.



Again, these are just tools, and like any other tool, they fail if not used right.




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