Setting team OKRs for Creative Team?

over 5 years ago from , Director of brand & Creative

Hey there, we are having some trouble setting clear OKRs for our team. We did it last quarter and we absolutely failed. How do you normally quantify creative work and how do you set measurable key results?


  • Anthony Short, over 5 years ago

    It really depends on the team and the company. If you try to measure "user experience" or "quality" you're gonna have a bad time. You can't measure the emotions that people, if they're enjoying the product, or if they find it easy to use. They're hard to measure quantitively, which are the type of metrics people usually set for OKRs.

    It also depends how your 'creative team' works. If it's a product team, and there's a design discipline embedded in it then that lead designer needs to push for these intangible things. I usually find it works best through storytelling, rather than trying to come up with abstract metrics that maybe kinda align to user experience.

    As a product team or company, it unfortunately usually comes down to the company leadership caring about user experience and quality and being OK not having hard numbers on it. Sometimes it's like a movie director making a film and using their experience and judgement to know if it's creating the right experience.

    I'd suggest investing in user research. They're one of the only ways you're going to get qualitative feedback. Designers are often forced into this role, but a specialist researcher is extremely valuable for the success of a design and product team.

    One thing I've seen work at companies in the past is a focus on negative impact to good users. A simple example could be a login/signup form. You might measure the time to complete the form, the % of people who fail (and maybe need to contact support or reset their password), in addition to the number of people completing it successfully. You want to reduce the frustration for people, so think about ways that could be reflected in the thing you're designing. What would the worst experience be? How can you measure that?

    I've found that as designers we're often the advocates the immeasurable aspects of a product. Not everything is measurable and that's ok. Humans aren't robots, so we need to understand how we can tell a story and work with their needs. For example, sometimes a product can add friction that users can overcome and feel rewarded, and this will keep them coming back.

    You'll also never be able to measure quality. It's impossible to say that this one design has a higher visual quality than another one. It's subjective. In my experience this usually comes down to design leaders making the call on what they think are "high quality visuals" and doing their best to hold the team to that standard through design reviews and critiques. Create an environment for people to learn and improve.

    9 points
  • Rico T., over 5 years ago

    Probably you are struggling with metrics, I'm right? Few tips: - Quantitative metrics are NOT mandatory You can define an objective and the key results could be to complete a project. A binary metric. - OKR is more an Alignment framework than a Metrics Dashboard. Use it with this concept in mind. - If you culture is completely data-driven, you can define different types of metrics, proactive and reactive. Proactive: 10 interviews about the new interface; Reactive: Click Rate improvement on the CTA button. It is healthy to get both as Key-Results

    5 points
  • John Peele, over 5 years ago

    Watching this as my team is about to start writing or OKRs for the next 6 months. The suggestions so far regarding quantitative vs. qualitative are spot on. Sometimes as creatives we tend to overthink OKRs.

    Betterworks has some good resources


    Scroll down to the Goal Examples section and there is a Design PDF.

    Good luck and keep us posted!!

    3 points
  • Rob Davies, over 5 years ago

    First things first. It's totally OK to fail with OKR in your first quarter, so don't give yourself a hard time. Most companies who set out with OKR also find it a big challenge to get started with. It really requires a shift in thinking from focusing on outputs or doing more things, to outcomes, "what do I want to achieve, why, and how can I measure it?".

    When you're setting your OKRs, make sure you give yourself adequate time to think. Your team Objectives should represent the top 3 or 4 most important things you want to achieve in the quarter. Ask yourself, "what do we want to achieve as a creative team"? Don't be afraid to think big!

    It's hard to judge creativity quantifiably, measuring an expected outcome is easier. Here's an example that a product team might come up with.

    O: Improve the "stickiness" of our product KR: Increase monthly active users by 10% KR: Increase new feature engagement by 8% KR: Increase new user onboarding flow completion to 90%

    These Key Results are all user-focused and are the measures of the outcome the product team is looking to achieve.

    When it comes to Key Results, ask yourself "how will I know if I've achieved my Objective"? Creative Objectives usually have an outcome in mind, whether that's for your company or your client, creativity is usually applied to solve a problem. Think about the problem you're solving and how you'll know when it's solved. This should help you come to your Key Results.

    An important note worth mentioning, your Key Results should always represent something you influence, not something you do. For example, "create 25 client treatments" is a bad Key Result because you're only measuring output, not outcome. A better key result would be, "achieve 85% acceptance for all concept drafts this quarter". Acceptance is not something you do, but it is something you can influence.

    "Proactive: 10 interviews about the new interface; Reactive: Click Rate improvement on the CTA button. It is healthy to get both as Key-Results"

    @Rico T - The first Key Result is a bad example, for the reasons I outlined above. Even if you "do" 10 interviews, how does doing an interview make the interface better?

    Always keep the "doing of things" separate from your Key Results. It's a common mistake many people make.

    Finally, keep at it. OKR is not easy and takes time. Go search the web for resources and read up on best practice, and stick with it, failing is an important part of the learning process. If you can keep going for a year, you'll find by the beginning of year 2 you'll start to fall into the habit of creating good Objectives and Key Results, and will really start to see OKR paying off.

    Good luck!

    2 points
  • Aaron GitlinAaron Gitlin, over 5 years ago

    Hey Stefka, I'm new to OKRs and going through the process with the team and my manager now. Anthony posted a great response, which I largely agree with.

    The process overall has been very top-down. The org gave us their OKRs, and then asked teams to develop their OKRs to support those org goals.

    After some discussion, it was decided to give cross-functional teams quantifiable Key Results, but individuals qualitative ones. This means that my team has specific and measurable key results (conversion, retention, etc), but individuals on it will have KRs that are more closely aligned to their roles within their team or department. This part is obviously and somewhat purposely ambiguous as we try to learn more about what works and what doesn't work.

    Another thing we decided is to make sure at least one OKR, if not more, are aligned to an individual's career growth plan and not necessarily team/company goals. For instance, I may have one related to giving talks or writing blog posts, neither of which align with an established team or org goal.

    Other individual KRs might be something like "researching pricing strategies", "designing and testing a new product detail view", or "contributing to team meetings and alignment". These can all be measured either via feedback from managers or peers.

    It's a bit messy, but so is pretty much everything we do!

    1 point
  • Tobin HarrisTobin Harris, over 5 years ago

    We've done 2 quarters of company-wide OKR's for our creative team of 12 people who build products for clients. We failed pretty badly too. Both times we bit off too much at once, and also it wasn't managed very well by myself, so it didn't get the focus it needed. But we'll keep trying!

    Anyway, next time we'll pick a more aspirational Objective. Something that you'd wake up and feel excited to achieve. And we'll also limit ourselves to 3 or 4 Key Results.

    Some of the Objectives that I think could be fitting to a creative team are:

    "Validate all our designs using data, to help us build better products" "Conduct research projects and then educate customers about them" "Become a company that promotes wellness" "Become a company that supports constant team education and growth"

    Hope this helps


    1 point