How To Add Numbers To OKRs

Your OKRs should include numbers. If they don't then read this post where we share how to move from to-do lists to actual objectives & key results.

Lasse Ravn

Lasse Ravn

Last updated on January 16th, 2023

how to quantify okrs

How do I add numbers to my OKRs?

This topic and question is something we see a lot flowing around in forums, various OKR articles, and even in replies to the OKR course, we've created.

In this post we'll cover three things:

  1. Examples of OKRs that people are struggling to add numbers to

  2. Why people end up with OKRs without any numbers in them

  3. How to make sure your OKRs are always quantifiable

Ready? Let's dive in!

Examples of OKRs without numbers

When implementing OKRs in your organization, it's sometimes difficult to formulate OKRs that are truly quantifiable and include numbers. Often, what people end up creating, is more like to-do lists. We want to avoid that for several reasons:

  1. It becomes impossible to track progress on key results as most only have two states; not completed or completed

  2. It often focuses on the output of the work you're doing instead of the outcome you'd like to achieve

An example of an OKR we've seen where the author asked how to quantify it was:

New feature released before end of next month

You might recognize the structure of this if you've been struggling yourself, or you might roll your eyes and think "doh, this is not a proper key result". Either way, follow along.

We've seen plenty of suggestions as to how people could quantify this key result. Some of them are:

  • "Just split up the feature into user stories and measure how many of them you've completed each week" or even worse

  • "Just measure how many days you've worked on the feature out of the total you have available"

Let me be very clear here. This is NOT the solution you're looking for.

Another example we've seen is from a marketing department that had the OKR:

Run successfull Black Friday marketing campaign

This again is not a proper key result and it completely misses the point of creating OKRs. Let's take a closer look at why people end up in these situations with their OKRs not being measurable.

Why people end up with OKRs without numbers in them

The main reason why people end up with OKRs they can't quantify is that they're framing their key results as outputs instead of outcomes.

The ability to distinguish between outcomes, outputs, and inputs is one of the most important competencies for people who implement OKRs in their organization.

If you face a situation where you're trying to figure out how to quantify your OKR, ask yourself this:

What is it we want to achieve by doing what my key results currently states?

If your boss came up with the key result, then I'm afraid you should sit down with that person and talk about delegating OKRs to team members.

If you came up with it yourself, then there's hope! Let's look at how to make sure your OKRs are always quantifiable.

How to make sure your OKRs are always quantifiable

The main reason our OKRs are sometimes not quantifiable is that they're too focused on the output and not the outcome.

I want to make sure you understand that this is perfectly normal. Working with outcomes requires a mindset shift.

If you, or the people you work with, have never worked with a framework like OKR, then this is totally normal.

The key to making your OKRs quantifiable is to take a step back and ask yourself what it is you hope to achieve by doing what your key result currently says you would do.

Let's go over a an example and see how these might translate to measurable key results.

Adding numbers to a Marketing OKR

Let's take the example I mentioned above about the Black Friday campaign.

Run successfull Black Friday marketing campaign

If we use the technique we described above and ask ourselves "why do we want to run a successful Black Friday campaign?" then we should be able to find the root of our goals.

It might be as simple as that we want to "Achieve the biggest sales volume over a Black Friday campaign". Great, that could be our objective. Let's come up with a few key results that could accompany this objective:

  1. Add 20.000 new signups to our email list before Black Friday

  2. Get 10.000 organic users to view the company's Black Friday landing page

Imagine you're the head of marketing and you presented these key results to the team. As the head of marketing, you are the one accountable for achieving these, but it's the entire team who's responsible for achieving them.

The person on your team responsible for email marketing will now see a key result that is much (!) easier to understand and work towards. You'll empower that person!

If you're interested in more examples, we've collected additional OKR examples for marketing here.

Bonus tip: how to crowdsource other key results

What you might have noticed when you read the example above, is that we were able to define a key result that didn't necessarily need the project or initiative that made up the initial key result.

The core concept to understand is that there are many ways to do and achieve something. What non-quantifiable OKRs consist of is usually just 1 of those ways.

But if you're able to zoom out and understand what outcome you're trying to achieve, you're also able to ask the question:

What are other ways we could achieve this outcome?

This question serves as a great start to a team brainstorm that you should have before starting a new OKR period.


We hope this post helped you get a better understanding of OKRs and how to transform them into something you can actually measure.

If you previously struggled with delegation, we also hope that this sparked an idea or two in terms of how to empower your team to own key results and let you focus on the overall objectives and outcomes instead.

Browse +100 OKR examples

They're hard to come up with but we've got you! Browse +100 examples of OKRs from various companies and find inspiration for your next objective or key result.

Browse +100 examples

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