Aspirational OKRs vs Committed OKRs: Types of OKRs and Differences

Aspirational OKRs vs Committed OKRs: Types of OKRs and Differences

Recommended reading: Benefits of using OKRs goal-setting software

What do committed OKRs and aspirational OKRs mean?

Let’s understand their meanings with simple examples-

Daniel’s organization and his teams have agreed to execute certain OKRs and have mapped a precise action plan on how they are going to do so. 

– These are called Committed OKRs.  

Martha’s organization is more visionary. They have stretched goals. And her teams are not likely to fully achieve these ambitious goals.– Thes are called Aspirational OKRs. 

Aspirational OKRs and Committed OKRs: key differences

Committed OKRs are normal goal-setting commitments that people in your organization have made. These OKRs are to be achieved at different levels of your organization. And individuals and teams will have to adjust their resources and schedules to make sure the objectives are fulfilled. 

Aspirational OKRs, on the other hand, are the “moonshots” you aim for. They encapsulate how we’d like the world to look. Aspirational OKRs are also referred to as 10x goals or ambitious goals.

Larry Page in “Measure What Matters” expresses the concept of aspirational OKRs as, “If you set a crazy, ambitious goal and miss it, you’ll still achieve something remarkable.” 

Unlike committed OKRs, aspirational OKRs, don’t come with a defined path to arrive at the desired position. It doesn’t require real knowledge of the resources you will need on the path.

Aspirational OKRs can be done in both quarterly and annual cycles. They might even be changed or reassigned as per the team requirements. 

When graded, the committed OKRs are expected to score 1.0. Any grade lower than that will amplify the scope of adjustment in planning and/or execution. And ask for a discussion.

On the other hand, the expected score of an aspirational OKR is 0.7. But even with the 70% achievement target, it leaves lots of room for variance.

While talking about committed and aspirational OKRs, the former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Patti Stonesifer, says that “Until you set a really big goal, like vaccinating every child everywhere, you can’t find out which lever or a mix of levers is most important.

Our annual strategy reviews began with: ‘What is the objective here? Is it eradication or is it expanding the reach of vaccines?’ Then we could get more practical with our key results… You need those key results to align your everyday activities, and over time you keep moving them to be even more ambitious against that really big goal.” (in “Measure What Matters.” )

How to decide between committed OKRs and aspirational OKRs?

Committed OKRs will work best if your organization is newly introduced to the framework or is still in the rolling out phase.

With each goal achieved, your teams’ motivation and engagement will rise higher. In addition, teams easily get into the habit of running Committed OKRs and make it part of their work culture.

But if have already used the framework in the past, aspirational OKRs can do wonders for you.

Creating a result-driven work culture takes time. It demands discipline, continuous effort, and a mindset shift of employees and management. So you should start simple and focus on learning the methodology first. And set up the necessary processes to make it work. 

Setting aspirational OKRs in the very beginning would make your teams feel overwhelmed and over-pressurized. Extremely ambitious Key Results soon become too much to handle.


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