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OKRs for product management

At the beginning of the year a fair portion of everyone’s mindshare is spent on defining the goals for the year. Goals are an important mechanism in modern office factories to ensure people do the right things. There are various methods to figure out goals, but typically it involves a hierarchical model with cascading objectives. In my company they are called OGSM – objective, goals, something… and measures. I keep forgetting what the S was for.

The golden rule for these management terms is that it should include acronyms. Without acronyms the method does not count. I’ve settled on the OKR method: Objectives and Key Results.

What does OKR stand for

I just explained it, duh. Objectives and Key Results.

Objectives are big bold statements that sort of set your ambition.

Here you say things like – grow potato plants on Mars, or become the most customer friendly business in my industry, become the market leader in my segment, or make the energy transition happen. Objectives are hard to measure, difficult to reach, but they give you the tingely feeling in your stomach that this is something to crave for.

Key Results are measurable, specific, realistic and actionable, they are SMART. Key results help you monitor where you are on your way to meet your objectives

Examples of Key Results include things like: Launch new product in Q1, run a marketing campaign and develop 1000 leads, run a weekly marketing meeting, reach out to 10 experts and offer a job to them, make 10 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Company, team, individual OKRs

Here is how the cascading down thing comes to play. As a professional working in a team you typically cannot just set your own goals. Your goals are part of your team goal, and the team goals are part of company goals. Silly example for a soccer club – let’s say the soccer club’s goal is to be the most successful club in town. The objective of Team A is to win every match, as that will help the club to become most successful. The objective of the forwards is to score as many goals as possible. Everything links together.

So as a product manager, your job is to first figure out what your company goals are, what your team goals are, and then work on building your own goals.

What are good OKRs for product managers

Objective: Launch new product

  • Key Result: Complete product testing with zero defects in Q1
  • Key Result: Prepare a product launch marketing campaign targeted at all customers in Segment A
  • Key Result: Prepare briefing for marketing agency following briefing template
  • Key Result: Finalize product datasheet, factsheet, and presentations before product launch
  • Key Result: Run a training program for the salesteam and ensure 95% attendance

Product Strategy OKRs

Objective: Create inspiring product vision

  • Key Result: Complete customer interviews with 30 customers
  • Key Results: Run brainstorming sessions with sales, marketing and product
  • Key Result: Perform SWAT analysis on current product portfolio
  • Key Result: Conduct market research with external agency

Team Performance OKRs

Objective: Institutionalize a performance management framework for your team

  • Key Result: Develop a performance management system with annual and quarterly targets
  • Key Result: Develop an annual plan together with the team by the end of Q1
  • Key Result: Tailor the plan based on feedback from the team and have team sign off on the plan
  • Key Result: Evaluate the performance plan after 6 months and create an improvement plan

Product Adoption OKRs

Objective: Create adoption for your new product

  • Key Result: Create a marketing communication campaign for your product
  • Key Result: Run a webinar campaign towards your customers and ensure 65% registration
  • Key Result: Train sales team on key positioning points and storyline towards customers
  • Key Result: Develop a reporting structure to monitor product adoption and report every friday
  • Key Result: Participate in at least 5 customer visits to understand how the product is being received
  • Key Result: Evaluate adoption activities every quarter

Product Margin OKRs

Objective: Increase product profitability with 3%

  • Key Result: Run analysis on current product performance and create a 5 point improvement plan
  • Key Result: Engage with suppliers to renegotiate product buy price with 5 base points
  • Key Result: Create a product differentiation approach and launch 2 new product variants

Product awareness OKRs

Objective: Increase internal visibility of products and propositions in the company

  • Key Result: Prepare and execute a roadshow to visit all Management Team meetings
  • Key Result: Run a monthly newsletter with 50% internal open rate
  • Key Result: Organize a quarterly product or team demo to highlight your product
  • Key Result: Develop a podcast series to explain your product proposition

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