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Boost Your School Productivity With OKRs

How effective is your school program? Are you getting the result you want? Are your staff aligned on your objectives? Are your students productive and actively participating in programs?

OKRs can be the tool you need to get more done, boost school productivity and get better results. Before giving you a few tips, let’s talk about what OKRs actually are. 

What Are OKRs?

OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. The idea itself originated in the 50’s but was popularised by Google in the early 2000s. They’re similar to the trusted SMART goals, many schools already use.

Both SMART and OKR goals are specific, time-bound, and measurable.

There are 3 elements to an OKR. An ‘Objective’. A ‘Key Result’ and an ‘initiative’ or set of initiatives.

With OKRs, the first part is the objective, defining what you want to achieve. You might describe the objective as the ‘destination’. The title of the objective does not include a result or hard metric that can be measured. That is the job of your key results. The Objective simply states what you want to achieve for example. ‘Increase school admissions.’

The second part is key results, which define how you will measure progress towards achieving the objective. Key results must be measurable. E.g. ‘Advertise for school admissions in 20 publications’ or ‘Generate 400 applications’. If you complete every key result, you accomplish your objective. Along the way, you can measure progress and see where you are on track or need additional effort. Neat.

An initiative is a type of key result in that it describes what you might do to achieve the objective but it does not include a measurable factor other than completion. If an objective is a destination, then an initiative is what you need to do to get there. You might, for example, need to build a team to tackle a project. This simply needs to be done and does not require measurement along the way. The team however will be tasked to advertise in 20 publications. This is a Key Result, where, each week, the team might report progress toward the goal of advertising 20 publications.

Your OKR is this case might look like this:


'Increase admissions this year'

Key results:

  • advertising in 20 publications
  • generate 400 applicants
  • 'initiative  - build a project team
  • initiative - set admission is in our school management software


Three OKR tips

Keep it simple

Don’t overload yourselves or your teams with objectives. Focus on the most important ones and make sure your team can focus and deliver on them. If it turns out there isn’t enough you can alway add more but you want to avoid putting yourself in a position of having to cut back on over ambitious goals as this is wasteful and demoralising. Get your team used to winning and increase the challenge in the next round of objective setting.

Focus on Priorities

There is a quote, loosely translated, that says “Where there is no vision, people scatter.” One of the most effective OKR techniques is helping you focus on priorities and committing to them.

When you construct OKRs without ambiguity, everyone on the team knows exactly where to focus and what to commit to each time. This way, people's time and resources are focused on common objectives. Your team often knows what needs to be done but unless they are given the time and resources to focus on their priorities, they are unlikely to succeed.

Understanding what everyone's priorities are and turning them into OKRs is a great way to ensure everyone is harmonised and working together. It also gives everyone visibility on what is happening and a chance to contribute to the creation of OKRs.

Team Alignment

Cascade your objectives, from your senior leadership teams down to departments and teams.

Overall school objectives can be set by the school leadership team. Each team will set their own initiatives in context of the objectives they’ve been given. This way everyone knows how, what they are doing, contributes to the bigger picture.

Identify dependencies and understand if some OKRs require the completion of other OKRs. Once it’s all clear and everyone is aligned, teams can execute.

When done well, OKRs can really help your team align and focus on common goals but they do take practice and commitment so start simple and build up. For a more indepth look, Perdoo is one of our favourite OKR resources for learning.