The Difference Between Objectives and Key Results

by Alessia Ghiandoni | Apr 26, 2022

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Before we dive into the core differences between objectives and key results, let’s explore how using the OKR framework can help your organisation thrive. 

How OKRs can help your organisation grow

At There Be Giants, we see OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) as a way to crystallise and help you achieve your strategic priorities by providing directions in an agile and engaging manner. Indeed, OKRs change how companies define their priorities and develop their business objectives to work on a transformational company level. 

OKRs are building a rigorous focus on business growth and innovation within companies of all shapes and sizes. OKRs can have a significant impact, but it takes hard work and dedication to ensure they are embedded correctly to create a positive impact. 

One of the remarkable strengths of adopting the OKR methodology is that it requires you to take a long, hard look at how you execute your business strategy and plan. It also helps you motivate and align your people behind it. Done right, OKRs can help you make sure your people are happy, motivated and pulling in the same direction. 

When your people are happy and motivated they will instinctively pull in the same direction. 

By implementing robust OKRs, you’re focusing on the priority projects that will help to fuel business growth. They also allow you to improve cross-functional communication and strategic alignment. 

It’s important to first focus on your business strategy, identifying your key priorities, for example, for the next 3-5 years. 

Once complete, look at your key priorities and pick the ones that you think you can work on during an OKR cycle, the ones that we like to describe as your “big moves”. 

If you’ve done that, you’re ready to start elaborating on your OKRs. 


What is the difference between an objective and a key result?

Let’s start by saying that objectives and key results have two different purposes. The objective is the inspirational ‘slogan’ that explains the value you’d like to see.  Key results are dependent on the objective they’re linked to. 


Qualitative vs Quantitative 


An objective has a qualitative measure. We like to say that an objective is a “mission statement” about something you want to achieve in the future. An objective determines the course of action, much like a map’s destination. It metaphorically answers the question, “Where do I want to go?”.

Keep in mind that a compelling objective doesn’t just state what you want to achieve but also why it’s so important to you. Your objective drives you and keeps you motivated every time you read it. 

Remember, it has nothing to do with metrics, as its purpose is to inspire you and ensure that everyone understands where to go. Indeed, objectives shouldn’t be technical, and they can’t include metrics.

On the other hand, a key result is 100% quantitative. If the objective focuses on why you want to do that and what you want to achieve by the end of the cycle, a key result should focus on how you want to achieve that objective and the measurable impact you can see and track.

Key Results tracks your progress toward your objective, playing as a piece that moves to show you how close you are to achieving your objective. In other words, a key result is a measurable outcome that should be met to achieve the objective. That’s why they include metrics that have a start and end value. It is crucial that the data used is reportable and that the key results have a measure that preferably reflects outcome/impact. 

How can TBG help?

Our OKR experts at There Be Giants can help you further by helping you to understand OKRs even further and create powerful impactful OKRs that can supercharge your business growth. Speak to our team today to find out more.