The words "goal" and "objective" are very overloaded and when we are talking about them in the business context, we usually mean that the goal is the company's broad aspiration or future state, while the objective is a specific and measurable target to achieve the goal.

But these days, there is a thing called OKRs or Objective and Key Results and that confuses me a little bit. In my opinion, the "Objective" part of OKR is actually more like the goal and the "Key Results" in turn the objectives. I think it's important to define words semantics correctly to make sure that there is a shared understanding in our company so I just want to clarify that to myself.

Have I understood this or is there something that I haven't got right?

1 Answer 1


Objectives are Goals; Key Results are Metrics

The term OKR is attributed to Andy Grove (High Output Management. Grove, Andrew. Random House, 1983.). In an OKR, the objective is the expected (or possibly aspirational) outcome, while the key results are metrics for tracking progress towards (or away from) the objective.

Wikipedia's overview of the topic defines key results as set of 3-5 numeric metrics. It says:

OKRs comprise an objective—a clearly defined goal—and 3–5 key results—specific measures used to track the achievement of that goal. The goal of OKR is to define how to achieve objectives through concrete, specific and measurable actions. Key results can be measured on a 0–100% scale or any numerical unit (e.g. dollar amount, %, items, etc.).

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