OKR’s are not for everyone and can be a distraction for many companies if not used right.

Over the last few years, OKRs have become popular. Thanks to companies like Google, and LinkedIn who have found great value and success, they have popularised the OKR system. A lot of businesses are now keen to adopt OKRs within their organisations.

But at the same time, many of these companies don’t get the real value from OKRs and the system ends up becoming a ceremonial one-more-thing to do in the company. Managers and employees lose faith and eventually move on.

Here are the 5 signs OKRs may NOT be right for your company:

1. You’re an early stage of company

Startups by definition are really fast-paced. Sometimes a large part of the work in startups is validating the founder’s hypothesis and see if the thing works. This stage of the company is largely focusing on the execution of the original idea and see if the product works. – If you fall under this kind of a startup. OKRs are not for you.

If on the other hand, your startup is taking a discovery and learning mindset and measuring things like Product-Market-Fit or Activation and Retention, OKRs could be a great addition. Reminder, Google was under a year old when they first adopted OKRs.

☞ See how Product teams launch new products using OKRs
☞ See how Google used OKRs to launch Chrome

2. You’re not Metric-driven

Do teams in your organisation talk in numbers. Do you have a culture of tracking key KPIs? Is there clarity of what numbers matter to the growth and success of your company? – have you invested in buying or building a data analytics software, such as Amplitude, MixPanel, Tableau, Metabase, or some such. If you haven’t, then OKRs are not a good fit for you.

3. You are a feature factory

Think about how projects in your company are driven. Are there long road maps and backlogs of features to be built? are these things decided by someone at the top and handed down to the teams to execute? Do Product managers in your company mostly do project management? If teams are not empowered to make their own decisions then OKRs are not a good fit for you.

4. You don’t have leadership buy-in

This is probably the most important thing to consider if you want Org-wide adoption. If you are trying to experiment using OKRs just for one department or team to achieve certain goals, even so, you must have the active support of the head of that department or team. If your leadership team is not convinced and on board with OKRs then OKRs are not a good fit for you.

5. You’re not nimble and quick to learn

You have too many internal processes and politics which slow you down. You have too many people to please and too many leaders to convince. You don’t have the patience to make OKRs work for you. OKRs won’t work for you if you don’t have an agile environment.

Next: A brief guide to OKRs

North Features
Org and Team goals
Goal Initiatives
Goal Check-ins
Give Awards
Goal Alignment

Our take on Product
On Product discovery
Communicating well
Metrics for Product teams
Telling stories with data
Data visualisation


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