Goals, tasks and a brief introduction to OKRs

When we discuss personal productivity, we often hear the words ‘goals’ and ‘tasks’. However, there’s sometimes confusion about what each term means. Understanding the difference is simple, but crucial, whether for personal planning or steering your business towards success.

Goals versus tasks

A goal is an outcome you aim to achieve, reflecting the bigger picture of where you aspire to be in the future. For instance, an individual might have a goal to become fit, or a company might aim to increase its profits by 20% in the next year.

Conversely, a task is a specific action needed to progress towards your goal. For example, going for a run every morning is a task that can help achieve the goal of becoming fit. Similarly, launching a new marketing campaign might be a task that contributes to a company’s goal of increasing profits.

The importance of both short and long-term goals

Goals can be categorised as short-term or long-term. Short-term goals are achievable quickly, perhaps in a day or a week, acting as stepping stones towards long-term goals, which may take months or even years to achieve. A blend of both short-term and long-term goals keeps the momentum alive; the former provides immediate satisfaction, while the latter maintains focus on the bigger picture.

In business, we should be talking about OKRs

For businesses however, it’s important to introduce a structured framework known as Objective and Key Results (OKRs). Originated by Andy Grove at Intel and later popularised by John Doerr at Google, this framework has gained global acceptance with industry leaders like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Airbnb, among others. It is to business what GTD is to personal productivity.

An Objective in OKRs is akin to a goal, a clearly defined aim that a business strives to achieve. Key Results, on the other hand, are specific, measurable actions needed to achieve that objective. For instance, if the objective is to increase customer satisfaction, key results could include reducing wait times, improving product quality, or enhancing customer service.

How OKRs bridge the gap

The OKR framework creates a transparent pathway from broad objectives down to daily tasks. Everyone in the organisation is assigned a few OKRs and become part of the bigger picture, understanding how their tasks contribute to achieving the organisational objectives. This clarity not only enhances productivity but also fosters a sense of purpose and teamwork.

Moreover, OKRs provide a method to measure progress towards objectives, offering a clear picture of what’s working and what needs adjustment. This structured approach to goal-setting and task management aligns efforts across the organisation, promoting a culture of continuous improvement.

Tailoring OKRs for your business

The versatility of the OKR framework is one of its key strengths. It can be moulded to fit the needs of any business, regardless of size. By setting clear objectives, breaking them down into key results, and further into tasks, businesses can create a roadmap towards success.

If you haven’t already considered OKRs for your business, then I encourage you to investigate to see if it will be a good fit for you. Just as putting efforts into goals and tasks personally, employing frameworks like OKRs, can significantly boost organisational productivity and cohesiveness. It aligns efforts, provides clear direction, and fosters a culture of achievement and continuous improvement. Understanding and implementing this delineation places individuals and organisations on a solid trajectory towards success.

Here’s a few good references to get you started:

  1. Books:

  2. Online Resources:


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