OKRs Extended

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are a common management framework, currently used at Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Uber.

If OKRs are new to you, an excellent introduction is available here. If you’re comfortable with KPIs or the Balanced Scorecard, you’ll have no trouble adapting Onebrief to your framework.


For this example, we’ll use JC Penney’s disastrous situation in 2011. Of course, we’ve simplified it for brevity. In this example, we will:

  1. Create OKRs for their marketing and stores teams
  2. Connect these objectives to the company’s strategy
  3. Add side effects, including harmful ones
  4. Decide what to do -- and not do

Basic OKRs

OKRs consist of one or more measurable key results, which contribute to a clearly defined objective. This framework closely matches Onebrief’s, but OKRs have simplifications that don’t match the real world.

Let’s assume the marketing team’s objective is to “Create a brand image as the hip place to shop.”

Here are some key results that might lead to that objective.

Screenshot of marketing OKRs

I’ve done the same for their stores team.

Screenshot of stores OKRs

Company Strategy

Let’s connect them to the CEO’s objectives.

Screenshot of company strategy

Side effects

But wait! There are other effects of our new brand image. Couldn’t it harm our existing customers? I’ll add some additional outcomes.

Since they affect our revenue goals, I’ll create that link as well.

Screenshot of side effects (1)

Other actions -- especially our new pricing plan -- will have negative effects too. I’ll draw those links.

Screenshot of side effects (2)


Decide what to do -- and not do

Onebrief is based on the principle that the best action has the most valuable effects. More specifically, it creates the most value per unit effort.

I’ll start by rating the value of outcomes and the investment required for actions. Our algorithm will propagate these values, so that an action’s value includes the effects of its effects of its effects (and so on).

Screenshot of rating effort

We also need to consider the probability of our links.

Screenshot of rating links

Now we have a more complete understanding of our situation -- the good effects and the bad.

Screenshot of entire map

We’ll apply filters to determine which actions are important. Here’s a filtered map, illustrating the effects of our new pricing scheme.

Screenshot of filtered map