Chapter Two: OKR Principles

A chapter from:  

The Ultimate OKR Starter GuideDownload Your PDF Now!

The principles behind properly designed OKRs provide guidelines that unlock transparency, focused effort, motivation through ambition and agility to adapt. This drives ownership, accountability and innovation towards achieving collaboratively set goals, explaining why OKRs deliver vastly superior outcomes when principles are adhered to. Let's dig into each principle a little more deeply.

Principles of the OKR Methodology

Focus and Prioritization

Focus and prioritization are vital in the OKR process to channel effort on the goals that create maximum value. Saying “No” to less critical work spurs teams to identify and intensely dedicate themselves to ambitious and results-oriented objectives with crystal clarity. This focus applied through the goal setting and tracking process explains why properly designed OKRs deliver superior outcomes.


Alignment ensures OKRs at the individual, team and company levels are interconnected to pull towards common north stars. Cascading objectives and key results down levels and business units couples top-down guidance with bottom-up insights. This connectivity enables organization-wide effort synchronization, cross-functional collaboration and shared accountability in achieving defined goals. Alignment multiplies the power of focus.


Transparency powers the OKR process by openly showcasing goals and progress across the organization. This visibility builds collective ownership of ambitions, key results, and outcomes among teams. By spotlighting objectives, an environment of trust and accountability gets fostered. Everyone can monitor alignment and contribute insights toward shared missions. This culture of transparency explains why OKRs deliver superior engagement and results.


Agility enables rapid adjustments of OKRs based on learnings without losing purpose. Real-time progress check-ins spur feedback exchanges across teams to identify what's moving the needle and what's not. This empowers quick adaptation of key results and resources behind objectives without waiting for stage-gate delays. Agility applied through continuous OKR improvements creates responsiveness to capture emerging opportunities. This explains why OKRs drive better outcomes.

Making OKRs adaptable makes teams more agile and responsive in the face of new realities. Rigidity gives way to quickly evolving objectives while retaining purpose.

These principles are NOT the “rules of the road". Consider them guidelines, or a starting point. Each organization should adopt a core set of principles that make OKRs work within their organization. OKR Principles are designed to unlock the behavioral changes that explain why OKRs, when done right, deliver superior outcomes relative to other goal setting frameworks. In that sense, the principles you adopt become the “operating system” for OKRs to enhance organizational performance.

Keep Reading:

Chapter One: What is an OKR?Chapter Three: The Benefits of OKRs

Other Resources You Might Like

Onboard, develop, retain, and grow
every employee - from day one

By using this website, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.