A Guide to Getting Started with Objectives and Key Results

An Introduction to Objectives and Key Results

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is a goal-setting framework that aligns entire organisations around shared priorities. It brings visibility into individual and team progress toward quantitative goals that reflect what matters most. This focus and transparency allows arts and cultural organisations to enhance strategic direction, productivity, and collaboration. By cascading top-level organisational objectives down to team and individual key results, OKRs help prevent silos and keep all departments working towards the same ambitious vision. Implemented properly, they drive organisations forward quickly by highlighting what activities offer the most value.

Benefits of the OKR Framework

There are 3 major benefits to implementing OKRs in your organisation:

  • The framework informs the entire organisation on what really matters

    OKRs ensure that everyone is on the same page and are working towards accomplishing prioritised goals

  • It offers a clear path on what is making a meaningful difference

    This allows individual teams and departments to take responsibility for their contribution to the success of your organisation, offering a sense of purpose and accountability.

  • Most importantly, it highlights what is not successful

    OKRs avoid time being spent on tasks that don’t really matter, demanding focus and encouraging decision making based on proven results.

Image of blocks printed with arrows angled towards a block printed with a target

What we’ve learned from OKRs

Team Ticketsolve began implementing the OKR framework a number of years ago. Some of the key things we’ve gained from using the model have been:

  • A way of quantifying instead of just qualifying

    The framework helps to add numbers/dates/deliverables to the results we want to achieve each quarter

  • Knowledge of how we’re actually performing in achieving our goals

  • Periodical reviews of how we are doing in reaching these goals

    We use these review sessions as a learning tool for providing useful data on what we are working on towards the future.

OKR Model

  • As you begin setting your first OKRs start by defining 3-5 Objectives for your organisation and departments that you want to achieve during a given time period (quarter or season). Objectives should be ambitious, qualitative, time-bound, and actionable.

  • Under each Objective set 3-4 measurable Key Results. Key Results show the most important things you need to do this season, not every small task you do each day. Key Results can be based on growth, performance, revenue, or customer engagement.

  • While you should set OKRs for quarterly or seasonally, it is important to continuously review all OKRs on a weekly basis. This ensures you stay on track with your goals and acts as an excellent feedback loop for team members.

  • OKRs should be incorporated into all weekly activities. At the beginning of the week, it’s important to think about what projects and plans need focusing on. Set deadlines for these priorities and review progress internally at the end of the week.

  • At the end of the OKR cycle, you should then review how the overall performance across the different departments and your overall organisation. See what worked well and identify areas for improvement. From there you can start planning your next OKR cycle.

A 3-Tier Approach to Creating OKRs

  • Organisational OKRs 

    Organisational objectives set by leadership reflect an organisation’s overarching priorities and vision. Well-defined top-level objectives provide clarity so teams understand how their work ladders up to meaningful impact.

  • Team OKRs

    Team OKRs define the priorities for the entire  team in one department and are not a collection of all  individual OKRs.

  • Personal OKRs 

    Personal OKRs define the contribution of a specific and individual person for the organisation and highlights their own priorities and deliverables.

Elements of Creating Meaningful OKRs  

For each tier, you need to define the following:

  • Objectives

    The objective needs to be ambitious, it shouldn’t be something that is easily achieved.  the objective should feel a tad uncomfortable.
    It is useful to review an example of an OKR applicable to most organisations which is centred on fundraising.

    e.g. Objective: create a successful fundraising campaign across all channels of the organisation

  • Key Results

    Key results  are specific and measurable. Remember, it’s not a key result unless it has a number/date attached to it. This way it offers the team a clear set of deliverables to aim for!

    e.g. Key results:

    1. Launch  fundraising campaign in December
    2. Raise £35,000 by April
    3. Create a meaningful ‘Thank You’ campaign for all donors over £50
    4. Secure 3 high-level donations of over £500 pounds after 3 months

Developing A Process and Creating A Timeframe

The most common OKR trap is setting aspirational goals then failing to revisit them. To maintain momentum, teams must review progress continuously, not just quarterly or annually. Short weekly check-ins ensure visibility into advancement towards seasonal or annual objectives. Regardless of when the OKR cycle starts, these intermittent progress reviews keep teams motivated and aware of their contributions. They also prevent end-of-period surprises since everyone receives ongoing feedback about organisational progress against goals. Ultimately, regular OKR progress monitoring sustains accountability to team commitments and maintains alignment across the organisation.

Understanding the Cycle of the OKR Framework

The ideal OKR cycle aligns with an organisation’s natural rhythms. For arts and culture, quarters or seasons often fit best. Though research shows 3 months optimizes goal-setting, fast-paced groups can use 6-8 week OKR sprints. Regardless of cadence, the timeline should integrate smoothly into existing organizational planning. While leadership sets top-level organisational objectives, managers and staff should collaboratively develop departmental and individual OKRs. Regular staff meetings and one-on-one check-ins ensure employee input directs OKR alignment and maintains transparency around progress against shared goals.

Tracking Your Progress

It is best practice to score your OKRs on a weekly basis – this can be done during team meetings. Scoring and monitoring an OKR works off a percentage model. If you are hitting and exceeding your objectives, you mark your result as 100%. If you have only achieved half of your objective, your result will be 50%.

e.g. if your target is to reach 10% increase in revenue by the end of the season but you think you will only hit 7%, you mark the objective  at 70%

Be honest and realistic when scoring. Remember if you score 100% at the end of the season or quartet, your OKRs were probably set a little too easy. Think of your scoring something like this:

  • 50% – Average
  • 60% – Above average
  • 70% – Very Good
  • 80% – Great
  • 90% – Excellent. Identify areas for further growth next season
  • 100% – Overall an excellent performance but need to identify a challenge moving forward

Review, Learn and Go Again

At the end of each OKR cycle make sure you schedule the time for a  review session. In these sessions you should give each of your key results a final score, and reflect on each OKR as a whole. Using a retrospective approach, pose some (or all) of these questions to your team:

  • Were our objectives ambitious enough?

  • Were our key results measurable? Did we know what our baseline was at the start of he quarter?

  • Did we lose sight of our objectives during the season? If so, why?

  • Were our OKRs aligned with the company’s broader strategies?

  • Did they keep us focused?

  • Did we feel connected to our OKRs?

  • What have we learnt from this quarter? How do we lift the bar moving into the coming quarter?

Ready to get started? To give you a helping hand, we’ve created an OKR Worksheet for you to use when building your goals.