How Many Key Results is Too Many? A Guide to Setting Objectives and Key Results

Setting objectives and key results (OKRs) is a great way to capture the ambitions of your organization. But how many key results should you have? To ensure that your team can remember them and measure progress accurately, it's important to have the right number of objectives and key results. The OKR methodology was initiated by John Doerr, and it involves setting objectives that can be measured with 1 to 5 key results per objective. These objectives should be concise, one-sentence statements that fit on one or two pages.

The number of key results you assign should depend on the time you have to work on the OKRs. For example, if you have 30 employees, the most likely thing they can achieve is one goal and up to three key results. On the other hand, if you have fewer key results, you may have to think carefully about whether these few key results are sufficient to define the objective clearly. It's also important to make sure that the key results you establish are truly representative of a measure of what you want to achieve.

Imagine if an entire business unit had the same strategic priority and worked to achieve an objective and a couple of key results. Instead of focusing on the number of key results for an objective, focus on the total number of key results you'll achieve during a quarter. What really matters is that you don't get too many key results overall, if you take into account all the objectives for the quarter. The key results must be correctly connected in a reasonable way so that the employee can easily remember them.

For example, if your goal contains 8 to 9 key results, it can be confusing to see if all of these key results relate to the objective or if they can be divided into different objectives. To sum up, when setting OKRs, it's important to have a maximum of 5 objectives with between 3 and 5 key results each. This will ensure that your team can remember them and measure progress accurately. Make sure that the key results are representative of what you want to achieve and that they are connected in a reasonable way.