Strategy meets Execution at Unlock:OKR.

CEOs who value outcomes over output work with Unlock:OKR. Combining top-rated software with 30 years of performance consulting, we work with organizations to improve focus, alignment, rhythm, and agility.

Taking the First Step

Implementing OKRs is a job well-suited (maybe even best-suited) for the CEO. It takes significant commitment from the organization, represented by their most valuable resource: time. It does not just require the time of one-person though, it takes everyone investing their time to be diligent about strategizing goals, writing goals, focusing on goals, and measuring goals.

Is the juice worth the squeeze? Absolutely!

There is a reason the world’s top companies, such as Google, Amazon, Apple, and Netflix have all decided to implement OKRs in their organization.

There are many frameworks to help develop strategy and execute on that strategy, but few are as equally simple, powerful, and effective. Best of all, you don’t need anything to get started.

While organizations that adopt OKRs with software make their life easier, many organizations start their OKR journey using Excel and mountains of content available online.

Recognizing the benefits of adopting OKRs can be seen quite instantaneously as well, making it easier to adopt than other frameworks which require delayed gratification.

Why OKRs

So, why should you adopt OKRs in your organization?

When we help CEOs answer this question, we have two common responses. These responses vary based on the nature of the question.

If you’re wondering why to use OKRs instead of framework XYZ, there is one answer. But, if you’re just starting to consider OKRs and you want to know what’s in it for you, we go a different route. We will cover both here:

Why OKRs instead of something else?


Probably the most under-valued trait of OKRs for CEOs is the simplicity of the framework. While the simplicity is what draws CEOs in, they traditionally do not realize that this same feeling will be easily absorbed throughout the organization, making adoption less of a burden.

OKRs are simple at every step of the way. They are easy to grasp the understanding, they are easy to start implementing on your own, and they are easy to iterate.

Unlike other tools which requires a combination of books, webinars, and worksheets just to get started, most CEOs can watch a 15-minute video on the topic and start writing OKRs the very next day.

Proven Framework

Any major transformation in the organization comes with risk. CEOs must be confident that any transformation has a high likelihood of success because mistakes can be costly.

OKRs help put CEOs at ease because the framework has been proven time and time again for the past two decades. Not just by start-ups, but by mid-market, and global organizations alike. It is truly built for everyone.


Many frameworks have been designed by organizations to make money. This is not the case with OKRs. While there is a well-known book called “Measure What Matters”, which is somewhat of a foundation for OKR information, even buying that book is not necessary to succeed with OKRs.

More important than the framework being free to implement, is that fact that it was NOT created to make money which attracts many CEOs who are tired of being sold on the latest management models by consulting organizations.

It gives CEOs confidence that there is no ulterior motive behind the initiative.


CEOs spend countless hours trying to create unique value within their organization. This uniqueness can make it difficult for them implement anything “off-the-shelf” and many times, trying to jam the square peg in the round hole becomes detrimental to the organization.

OKRs shine in this category because they are incredibly flexible.

Maybe you are a start-up and want to do a monthly performance cycle instead of quarterly, great! Maybe you want to leverage OKRs as an employee engagement tool and track employee performance, great!

Now, some people might argue this point that OKRs not done in EXACTLY the intended way cannot work, but that simply is not true.

There are simply too many strategic frameworks, execution frameworks, and framework frameworks to list why OKRs are better than all of those, but let me leave you with a case study on Unlock.

Our company, Infopro Learning has been in the corporate training and coaching world for over 30 years. We have led more organizations through strategic transformations than we care to count. In all of those years, we NEVER implemented a strategic framework that lasted more than 18 months in our organization. Not only have we been using OKRs for the past 5 years, we believed the tool was so far ahead of the curve that we felt compelled to make a product and offer it to our customers.

What do OKRs bring to the table for CEOs

80% of leaders feel their company is good at crafting strategy but only 44% at its implementation

Most CEOs already know they need a structured framework for developing corporate strategy and execution because they’ve felt the pain of not having one. At this point in the game, you probably have already tried once, maybe twice, to implement a process, but it didn’t stick (or else why look into OKRs?).

Instead of looking at the benefits of having a strategic execution framework, such as OKRs, let us review specifically what OKRs bring to the table for CEOs. While the benefits are almost limitless, we’ve found it easiest to describe them along four core benefits: focus, alignment, rhythm, and agility.


OKRs bring tremendous focus to organizations by forcing leaders to determine their top 2-4 goals every quarter and having a relentless pursuit of achieving those goals.

OKRs help us focus as much on what we do, as what we decide we will NOT do, which tends to be the bigger problem for CEOs looking to make enormous gains

Focus also helps solves the problem of employee engagement because it provides a real purpose for every employee, empowering them to see how their work results in company performance.


Highly aligned companies have 36% higher growth than poorly aligned companies

The beauty of OKRs is that they create a standard by which EVERYONE will operate. Everyone in the organization defines and measures performance in the exact same way.

Everyone in the organization has complete visibility to everyone else’s goals, allowing them to collaborate as a team to hit their goals, instead of disparate teams chasing the same goal.

With everyone in the company operating on the same playbook, it leaves very little room for confusion.


Probably the hardest benefit for CEOs to realize within OKRs, but also the most powerful, is rhythm. OKRs have a sense of rhythm built into them (quarterly goals) which gives the company an immediate win. It forces companies to re-evaluate their strategy and goals every quarter.

However, what is harder to achieve is developing the rhythm of your company around OKRs. Instead of making them a quarterly exercise, using OKRs as the tool in which your company lives and breathes.

All-important meetings start with reviewing progress of OKRs and helping people who are lagging behind. This rhythm takes years and tremendous executive sponsorship because it is changing the culture of the organization to focus less on outputs, and more on outcomes.


We’ve seen first-hand the benefits of being agile enough to leverage the volatility of our environment. OKRs bring tremendous agility in organizations naturally through the review cycles built within the framework. And,like magic, you can change the duration of the review cycles to accomplish time-sensitive goals.

However, just putting due dates on things doesn’t make people magically hit timelines. The real power of OKRs comes from how quickly and easily CEOs can take a strategic goal and translate that throughout the organization. While this doesn’t happen overnight, it is one of the most powerful benefits of implementing OKRs.

This is nowhere near an exhaustive list of reasons you should implement OKRs, but it should be compelling enough to get your started. If not, we encourage you to talk with us. We can get you in touch with other like-minded CEOs who were in a similar position and would be more than willing to share their advice.

Highly aligned companies grow revenue 58% faster and are 72% more profitable than their misaligned counterparts.

Big Impact

OKRs can have an enormous impact for organizations, or they can become a flavor of the week initiative.

In our experience, the CEO is the one who must lead from the front if they want to start recognizing the results.

While we touched on reasons to implement OKRs above, it can be more helpful to see the benefits in more of a black-and-white context.

Employee Engagement

OKRs drive a sense of purpose for employees by connecting their work to business performance and outcomes. This is quite important! A survey by Deloitte found that employees that feel they work for a purpose-driven organization are 3X more engaged than those who do not.

Financial Impact

OKRs can help the CEO drive specific financials targets, which might get lost in the monthly and quarterly targets which people are usually held accountable. For example, if you want to wage a war on profitability, you can engage the entire organization around this one financial metric, which will cascade down to individual departments, not just financial. Marketing might create an OKR around shrinking cost per lead, Sales might limit travel, Ops might increase QA automation.

Sales Performance

Many CEOs and sales leaders have trouble leveraging OKRs for sales performance because there are already 100+ metrics already defined for success in that area. However, there is a lot of power to be had in implementing OKRs to boost sales performance in areas that require alignment. For example, “obtaining 5 sales in new Canadian region” would require goals to be written for hiring (HR), contracting (legal), inbound leads (marketing), and of course sales.


OKRs create a template for developing a performance-driven culture in organizations. Many CEOs struggle to create this culture organically because they cannot connect the dots from work to results across every department. This leads to teams working in silos doing “just their part” of the bigger puzzle. With OKRs, everyone works as a team to accomplish the same goal, backed by a significant performance outcome.

OKR Framework

Intro to OKRs

We won’t dive deep into explaining OKRs on this page, mainly because there are much better resources for better understanding OKRs, but we will cover them at a high-level for those CEOs who are just starting out.

OKRs are nothing new. They have been in practice for over 30 years now in the corporate world. However, they were not adopted uniformly around the world. While OKRs were invented in the United States by Andy Grove, they became much more popular in Europe in their introduction. Fast forward to today, and OKRs are now one of the most popular strategic execution frameworks that exist.

What is an OKR?

By definition, an OKR consists of an Objective and a Key Result (OKR).

Objectives tell you what you want to do, using terminology which is inspirational and concrete, but not measurable.

In other words, when an employee reads it, they should be motivated by the goal to be accomplished and have a clear understanding of what the goal is, but they might not know the specific target.

Key Results tell you how to do it (“it” being the Objective). Above all, Key Results must be measurable and time bound; everything else doesn’t really matter.

OKR Example for CEOs

Objective: Expand the business faster to emerge as a sustainable business leader

Key Results:
  • $230M in bookings increased from $150M
  • 86% gross revenue retained
  • $970M Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR)

BHAG Caveat

That’s not a typo…it says BHAG (pronounced “bag”). There are two schools of camp when it comes to OKRs; let’s call them traditionalists and realists.

Traditionalists will say that all of your OKRs should be Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG). This prevents your organization from trying to focus on improving every single metric every single quarter. They tend to limit OKRs to just a few Objectives a quarter. This is the way OKRs were designed in the first place over 30 years ago.

Realists tend to view the OKR framework as more of a guideline instead of a rule. They will mix BHAGs in with a goal that might seem more fundamental. Usually, this is to help make adoption of OKRs easier and helps shift the mindset of the organization more gradually into measuring outcomes of their work, instead of output.

For example, it might be hard for a Graphic Artist to write a BHAG because they simply don’t know enough about the business to understand what is big and hairy. They might be more comfortable writing something closer to a Key Performance Indicator (KPI). At Unlock, we find companies fall eb and flow out of each group (Traditionalist and Realist), but eventually, more land in the Realist category.

OKRs and KPIs

Since we touched on the subject of OKRs and KPIs above, let’s dive into the big, hairy, audacious question that every CEO asks themselves throughout their OKR journey. Should I measure KPIs in my OKR tool?

There is no right answer here. By the letter-of-the-law, KPIs should not be in your OKR strategy, but we find it incredibly rare that organizations don’t mix the two together in some form or fashion because they are inexplicably linked.

organizations don’t mix the two together in some form or fashion because they are inexplicably linked.

Let’s take the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, to describe the link.

Most of an organizations time (80%) is spent “in the business” and significantly less time (20%) is spent “on the business”

In this example, the 80% represents your KPIs. They are operational, task driven, and play a strong role in employee performance reviews. The 20% represents your OKRs. They are strategic, synchronized across teams, and not linked to employee performance (or pay).

In the real-world, we find the distinction between the two to be incredibly important (OKR vs KPI), but keeping KPIs and OKRs out of the same platform to be near impossible.

To combat this, we made the bold decision to include a way for organizations to decipher what goals in the platforms are Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (OKRs) and which goals are KPIs.

To do this, we use tags “Aspirational” or “Committed” on the Objectives, which help give a clear picture of whether the individual plans to hit 100% of the goal (committed) or it is more of a stretch goal (aspirational).


OKRs will not transform your company overnight. They are not a software that gets turned on and starts churning out results.

Successful OKR implementation starts, most commonly, with the CEO setting the right expectations for themselves, other executives, and the organization.


Implementing OKRs is not a sprint, nor a marathon, it is a combination of the two.

You sprint, grab some water, then sprint again. You do this for four quarters and the race starts back over. That is really the best way to view OKRs.

With CEO support, organizations can implement OKRs within a single quarter (at least at the management level), but then it is a series of iterations and adoption until the entire organization is using OKRs. There’s no default timeline for adopting OKRs across the entire organization, but roughly, small organizations can get it done in a month, mid-level in 6 months and enterprises take a year.

Cost ($)

Pick your poison on this one. You can implement OKRs for free if you use a series of Excel templates, but most companies out-grow those within a quarter or two. In addition, OKR software has features built-in which save organizations time and hassle which you can’t quite understand unless you’ve already done it. For example, most OKR software does not allow you to write Key Results that are not measurable. That forces adopting OKRs the right way, and it much easier than training the entire organization.

Our software is priced at $6/user per month.

Cost (Time)

This is your largest investment and what most CEOs underestimate. CEOs are required at the start to generate buy-in from the executive team, while also helping the team to think more strategically about what they want to accomplish every quarter.

In addition, the CEO must invest their time every quarter in ensuring the direction of the company fits the mission, vision, and values that they have defined.

However, where CEOs should NOT invest their time is passing on the basics of OKRs beyond the executive level. For that, we recommend finding a series of OKR Champions and letting them do your heavy lifting.

Return On Investment

Finally, we’re at the part that all CEOs care about most! OKRs are fairly easy to measure immediate ROI because the framework itself is designed to focus more on outcomes, instead of output. The hard part, is establishing your baseline pre-OKRs…which is probably why you are considering OKRs in the first place!

Implementing OKRs - Company-wide or Leadership Only?

61% of leaders acknowledge that their organization often struggles to bridge the gap between strategy formulation and its day-to-day implementation.

The investment of OKRs is magnified with each level and department they penetrate in the organization. Many CEOs start implementing OKRs as the Executive level because if the company does not have a clear direction defined in OKR terms, it is very difficult for the organization to get lost. We support this implementation plan.

Some organizations choose to leave OKRs at an executive level, which limits their performance.

Naturally, leaders of an organization will inherently know what matters most for the company. They will rarely waste time or money on initiatives which will not result in significant gains. And executives tend to be more outcomes-focused because they simply don’t have time to be transactional.

If you limit OKRs to just this audience, it does help seek alignment between leaders of the company, but it fails to penetrate past that group. It creates a significant burden for these leaders to try and distill their OKRs down into clear directions that their team can follow, unless they are on the shared platform of OKRs.

Implementing OKRs company-wide is traditionally the more preferred option for organizations large and small.

It helps the entire organization align around what they can do to help the organization perform at its best.

It gives a standard operating procedure that everyone understands and is held accountable for.

OKRs at scale also help to create your next generation of employees who are outcomes-focused. Last, it engages employees in ways you never imagined. What most employees lack in their work is purpose.

OKRs give every employee purpose, by exposing to them the WHY behind their work.

What CEOs need in an OKR Product

More features don’t equate to a better OKR product. In fact, it can be quite the opposite in many cases because it creates a significant barrier to adoption just trying to learn the software.

If you analyze reviews of OKR tools on Capterra, specifically the negative ones, just about every reviewer will eventually mention “Ease of Use” being paramount to their view of the product. Rarely do people tout Product XYZ is 5-stars because they have the most robust feature list.

We encourage CEOs looking to purchase an OKR product to focus less on every feature of an OKR product, and instead, focus on the experience they want out of the product.

It is the experience which will drive adoption of OKRs.

While you can waver on specific features, you should not back down on the experience you want. This experience should factor in first-time users of the product and the OKR framework itself, with the goal of minimizing friction.

One of the most common features for removing friction for organizations comes down to integrations. We encourage CEOs to view integrations as nice-to-have vs need-to-have. Talking with industry-leaders in the OKR space, it is rare for organizations to leverage the power of integrations because the OKR platform itself becomes a destination for organizations who have maximized adoption. That’s not to say integrations like SSO are not important to removing friction, because they certainly are!

In our experience, it is rare for any one feature to be a show-stopper for a CEO (excluding security), so don’t get caught up in the feature-war that us tool providers like to play.

Why opt for OKR Services

For CEOs to adopt OKRs, most rely on the help of consultants because they have the experience of implementing OKRs across many organizations and know what common pitfalls to avoid. This experience shrinks the time to performance and overall headaches for the CEO. Even CEOs who have gone through the process of OKRs before tend to work with consultants because they provide significant help along several key points in the OKR Journey.

During implementation, OKR coaches and consultants help the CEO to educate their leadership team on the What and Why of OKRs. This allows the CEO to stay more “neutral” in the process instead of appearing to force it upon anyone. In addition, consultants can act as an outsider for your leadership team, providing fresh prospective on the core strategies for your company.

As CEOs drive implementation outside of the executive team, OKR consultants become paramount to adoption by developing a cohort of OKR champions to act as the OKR consultants for the rest of your company. OKR consultants can also help CEOs assess how their OKR adoption is progressing over time and fine-tune processes along the way.

It certainly is not impossible to implement OKRs without professional services help, but traditionally the benefit greatly outweighs the cost.

There’s no shortage of consultants that can help with OKR consulting services, but one big benefit of working with Unlock is that you get platform and services under one roof. This ensures that any points of friction along the OKR journey process, whether it be from the tool or the OKR framework, can be resolved from a single source.

Organization Transformation With OKRs


Writing OKRs can be as much of an art as a science. It is like anything else in life, CEOs get better with practice.

One of the hardest parts of writing OKRs as a CEO is that it forces you to focus on a finite number of goals you want to accomplish in any given timeframe. In addition, there is usually not an abundance of good examples to pull from online because your business problems are unique.

To help you get your creative juices flowing, we’ve listed out common OKRs for CEOs, along with giving you an option to download them in Excel to edit and share as you wish.

CEO OKR Excel Template


CEOs play an important role in implementing OKRs and an even more important role in company-wide adoption.

It takes time and commitment to see OKRs through the first several iterations before momentum can take you the rest of the way.

Is it worth it?

Absolutely! In interviews with CEOs who have adopted OKRs, it is almost a universal agreement that they feel OKRs are the single-most important tool for them to create alignment, focus, rhythm, and agility.

In fact, most CEOs become so invested in OKRs that it is the first initiative they undertake when they enter a new company.

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