OKR System Design Guide

Design your individual OKR System based on your organization's needs

As with all frameworks, there is no “one way” or “right way” of using OKRs. However, there are many guidelines and good practices for shaping OKRs based on your organization’s needs and desired outcome at a given point in time.

This guide provides a set of options and some guiding questions to get you started or continue the momentum in your organization already using OKRs.

Below you will find a step by step guide how to define the WHY for your OKR usage and how to design your OKR System – so the way you work with OKRs in your company – according to your desired benefits.

OATC Framework

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Download a copy  of the OKR System Design Guide with annotations here:

Start with defining your “Why”

Designing a customized OKR System requires a well-defined vision that includes company aspiration and current business and customer needs. Starting with the “why” can be a powerful first step. Ask yourself, your leadership team, and your co-workers these questions: 

  • What does the organization we want look like? What are the common themes?

  • Why do we want to work with OKRs?

  • What do we want to achieve with OKRs?

After identifying your desired benefits, the next step is to think about where the organization is at today and where it’s going according to the vision. This will make the OKR System more tangible. 

For each benefit, the following questions (e.g. on a scale from 1-10) can be asked: 

  • Where are we today? This becomes the starting point. 

  • Then, consider the desired state in 5-10 years. This becomes the long-term goal.

Next, the first improvement target can be set.
Breaking down the target further will make it more realistic. 

An example could be, “For the first test phase / the next 3 or 6 months, what do we want to achieve with OKRs?” 

Prioritize the answers according to the most pressing challenges. And also consider what is realistic given the current organizational system—including leadership, organizational structures, compensation systems, etc.

The OKR System Design Template can be used to discuss options with the people responsible for the OKR System design before implementation or within each cycle to identify next improvement options. 

Feel free to add other aspects or leave out topics that are not beneficial to discuss. 

Tip: This template can feel overwhelming at first for those not so deeply involved in the topic. Please note that it is designed as a working tool for OKR Coaches and Process Owners so be mindful when communicating the options and chosen design patterns. Think in terms of a comprehensive story rather than a long list like this.


A full overview of all listed variables of the OKR System with definition and examples can be found in the download package below. Hopefully, this will make working with the template easy for you.

Happy exploring and designing!


More resources from OKRs AT THE CENTER (Check-In Guide, OKR System Design Template and much more) can be found here.

This guide is  based on the OKR System Design Template (CC BY-SA Sonja Mewes und Natalija Hellesoe).

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We value your feedback!

This is a living document to support OKR Practitioners around the world. 
So, if you have any comments, please write us at hello@okrs-at-the-center.com

A copy of the OKR System Design Guide and Template with annotations 

can be downloaded here

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