Don’t be a Grinch about OKRs. 5 ways to grow an OKR heart.

Grinch-like character embracing okr strategy improvement with a glowing heart amid festive trees

It’s the end of the year and while personal things are getting busy with the holiday seasons upon us, there’s one more thing to add to your list: OKRs.

You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch

The end of the year for most companies means a couple of things – figuring out where you landed for 2023 and figuring out where you’re going in 2024. For many, this includes looking at their digital product strategy, and how it can be improved. This can cause a good amount of stress considering how impactful this is to your company and day to day.

OKRs are a popular framework used for writing goals. This methodology gained a lot of traction with John Doerr’s book Measure What Matters.  Here’s a quick refresher on OKRs.

Objectives: WHAT you want to achieve

Normally you see these as larger, broader goals, that carry for a quarter or longer.

Key Results (KRs): HOW you want to achieve that objective. 

What are you doing to create something new or something to change. Normally you see these as something a team will try to do within a quarter.

Keep in mind for both – teams will represent their KPIs (key performance indicators) within the Objective and/or Key Results.

Doesn’t this all sound like a Christmas miracle? Clear objects and key results for teams to follow <3.

But here’s where the “grinch moment” hits. Just like how our favorite green character didn’t love all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, creating OKRs can feel like an added ‘hustle and bustle’ to an already busy work day. 

Lots of businesses don’t budget the time or focus on reviewing or creating OKRs. So, the end result feels rushed, lacking direction, a ceremony WITHOUT purpose.  

5 ways to grow an OKR heart 

  1. Be the North Star.
  2. Lean in.
  3. Show your objectives on your roadmaps.
  4. Use the framework. Don’t let it use you.
  5. Show your wins.

ONE: Be the North Star

Dear Leadership, We’ve been really good this year. Please, all I want is direction and clarity. 

If you want teams to be successful in writing OKRs then senior leadership and your c-level needs to set the north star. You don’t even need to write the goal in an OKR format at this level. Just give the teams your very TOP LEVEL goal. Let the team do the rest. Give the people doing the work the trust and autonomy to wow everyone. 

TWO: Lean In

We all get it – it’s an extremely busy time of the year and it’s hard to focus or find the head space to spend on goals. BUT YOU NEED TO DO IT. Really challenge yourself, reprioritize what you have been doing and focus on these goals. 

When you don’t make holiday plans, then your holidays are not likely very good. If you don’t MAKE goals, your business won’t be very good.  

If you’re still having a hard time after prioritizing your day to day focus, then call in some help. Ask your leaders, other teams, OR other companies to come in and facilitate OKR sessions for you. 

THREE: Show your objectives on your roadmap

Not everyone loves OKRs and I’m willing to bet all my presents this year that it’s because you don’t see how they make an impact and where it all connects. So, do yourselves a favor and put your objectives on your roadmap. 

For example, Productboard has an easy and awesome way to show off roadmap views WITH your objectives for all to see. The best part about this, is if you use a platform like this to manage your roadmaps, making a view with objectives is just a couple of clicks away. 

Productboard tool showcasing okr strategy improvement with objectives timeline roadmap highlighted

Your other win is that you can easily see feature work that is being planned or worked on that’s NOT tied to an objective. And if that’s the case… why are you doing it? Do your OKRs need to be revised or is it time to say ‘no’? Which leads me to my next point…

FOUR: Use the framework, don’t let it use you

Holiday hype. OKR hype. It’s that same feeling. You want it all, you’re committed to doing it right, and it’s going to be Clark Griswold PERFECT. 


It’s great to feel the love and hype for the OKR framework, but it’s just that. A FRAMEWORK.  If something isn’t working for you or your team, change it. Don’t let sticking perfectly to the framework hold you back. If your business landscape is changing and you need to adjust KRs, when you meet, or something isn’t laddering up perfectly. That’s OK.  

Use the framework to make your lives better, talk openly about it as a team if something needs to be modified. This way your holiday lights will look amazing even if you didn’t follow Clark’s lighting plan to a tee. 

FIVE: Show your wins

The Grinch stole Christmas, but don’t ever let anyone steal your wins. 

Having goals, writing them out as OKRs is wonderful. And when you learn something from a KR or achieve one of those goals – Shout it from the rooftops! I’ve never worked at a company that was always good at celebrating wins, so try to keep this top of mind. 

Roadmaps are a great way to not only communicate what you’d like to do, show objectives, but it can also show your wins. Again, back to a platform like Productboard—it only takes a couple of clicks and you can create a “wins” view of your roadmap. It’s like the shining star on top of a Christmas tree. “Look! Here’s everything this stellar team did” and it’s directly linked to the OKRs you spent time creating and following.

Features launched roadmap in Productboard illustrating okr strategy improvement and team achievements

A big heart

At the end, when the Grinch learns that stealing the presents does not destroy the Whos’ joy, he begins to see the deeper meaning of the holiday. He has a change of heart, he returns their gifts, and his heart grows three sizes.

Give these 5 methods a go and see if your OKR heart does indeed grow 3 sizes. If not – let me know, we can keep working on it.  

Happy Holidays all!

Green heart emoji conveying warm holiday wishes and festive cheer


  • Jackie is a Senior Product Manager with over a decade of industry experience. She is passionate about leading cross-functional teams with purposeful visual documentation, creativity, and high energy. She has worked with a wide range of clients, from premium retail, mortgage, finance, automotive, food and beverage, and federally regulated products.

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