The problem of KPIs without OKRs

The management tools of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have both been around for a very long time, and that’s because – unlike many awful business acronyms – they are genuinely important ideas. However, it’s not uncommon to find management latching on to the easy concept of KPIs alone, which is at best unsophisticated and at worst lazy.

KPIs are measurements of where we’ve got to, whereas OKRs define where we’re going. Clearly the two work together, but measuring results without having defined a target can be pretty pointless.

The whole concept of OKRs has been the subject of books, articles and courses, and will be second nature to many readers. But I still come across businesses which don’t define goals and the associated results required, yet measure performance regardless, using ‘KPIs’ as no more than an easy-to-grasp buzzword. This is more of a David Brent approach, and none of us would want that, would we?