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What SpaceX can teach us about OKRs

By Arnaud Meunier, Entrepreneur In Residence at Partech

Why and how you should use OKR (Objective and Key Results)

So… Turns out I actually have no idea if SpaceX uses OKRs, but I thought it’d help me drag your attention on this not-as-sexy (but so important!) subject. And now you’re here, I swear I’ll do my best to use them as an example.

You probably heard about OKR, pretty name that stands for “Objective and Key Results”. It looks like they’re all over the place these days, presented as a game changer in the way you run your company, creating focus and aligning team efforts towards the same goal.

OKRs look fairly simple. They’re nothing more than a set of objectives linked with measurable key results, that you’ll grade — and update accordingly — every quarter. For your company, for your teams, sometimes even for individuals. It’s an amazingly good execution framework, but also a fairly challenging one to put in place.

OKRs are hard. Why bother?

Poorly written OKRs will add process overhead, and will be at best a waste of time, at worst a source of frustration. Good OKRs will align your entire organization on the key measurable outcomes you expect in the quarter to drive success. For your company, and for your customers.

So what will actually “change the game” in my opinion is how you’ll define them with your teams, and more importantly how you’ll continuously use them in order to develop and maintain:

Operational efficiency, as you adapt your organizational structure to remove redundancies and optimize for clarity.

A shared and common understanding of what success means, and how each team is contributing to it.

A sense of ownership for your teams — which means responsibility, accountability, and authority — helping you push decisions down.

We’ll get back to these aspects later on, but for those of you who are new to OKRs — or need a refresh — let’s cover first how it works, dissecting piece by piece the scary diagram below:

OKR mission

Start from your company mission

Let’s start simple with one set of OKRs, for the entire company. Company OKRs typically derive from your mission, which defines the purpose of your organization, and what everyone is hoping to achieve by working there.

And let’s take a cool example with SpaceX! I actually have no idea what their OKRs are — or if they even use OKRs — but I do know what their mission is:

To revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.

Bold. Now in order to accomplish this mission, they likely have a product and go-to-market strategy in mind. A good starting point to set objectives.

Read the full blogpost on Medium.

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