Home / Blog / OKR vs. SMART goals: Key differences, Explained

OKR vs. SMART goals: Key differences, Explained

9 min read

Hey, it’s another goal-setting day, and we understand you’re again at a crossroads in terms of which goal-setting tool you should pick.

In this series, we have also compared: 

  1. OKR vs. EFQM 
  2. OKR vs. 4DX

Today, let’s have a look at how OKRs compare with SMART goals.

Both OKRs and SMART goals are two of the most widely used ways to create goals in organizations. We will check what they are, how they are similar, and how they’re different. Most importantly, this post will help you pick the right for your organization’s requirements.

What is OKR? 

OKRs stands for Objectives and Key Results. Invented by Andrew Grove, and later on, popularized by John Doerr at Google. It’s a framework where Objectives cater towards ‘What you want to achieve’ and the Key Results focus on ‘How effectively have you achieved those objectives.’ OKRs can be set for both the short and long term. 

OKR example: For Customer Success, sample OKRs are given below. 

Objective– Creating a great first impression 

Key result 1- Decrease the time taken to answer a call by 25% 

Key result 2- Increase efficiency when it comes to customer details by 35% 


Objective- Helping customers resolve complaints 

Key result 1- Increase troubleshooting chats by 10% 

Key result 2- Increase the customer satisfaction score by 20% 


If you want to check more OKR examples for Customer Success, please visit here. 

Steps for Implementation of OKRs: 

  1. Set: While documenting your OKRs, be specific and clear. Ideally, keep them neither too easy nor too difficult. 
  2. Track: Tracking the progress of OKRs is as important as setting them in the first place. Make sure you regularly track and check everyone’s progress. Use One-on-One meetings to engage your employees. 
  3. Review: Things in an organization can change quickly. Adaptability is the need of the hour, and therefore it’s advisable to review the OKRs regularly and make changes wherever needed. For example, COVID-19 forced organizations to change their long and short-term goals. The organizations that didn’t adapt and changed their goals on time perished or on the verge of it. 

To learn more, please visit ‘How to implement OKR framework’. 

What are SMART goals? 

SMART criteria for goal setting is attributed to Peter Drucker’s framework ‘Management by Objectives.’ 

In 1981, George T. Doran used it for the first time and showed the world the advantages of using SMART goals. For starters, unlike other frameworks, SMART is a simple structure for creating and tracking the progress of goals. 

SMART stands for: 

S- Specific 

M- Measurable 

A- Achievable or Attainable 

R- Relevant 

T- Time-Bound or Time-limited 

SMART goals

How SMART goals are utilized 

Let’s have a look at how SMART goals are created using each element. 


It all starts here. Writing a clear description of what needs to be achieved will make your SMART goals specific and understandable for everyone contributing to the process. 

For example: Increase blog traffic. 


This is a tough part. Why? To know if a goal is achieved, we need to measure it. Setting specific metrics and targets is the right way to go ahead. 

For example: Increase blog traffic by 25%. 


Given the resources, given the time, and given the possibilities, take your time to set goals that can be achieved in reality. You don’t have to keep easy goals, just attainable ones. 

For example: Let’s say a 25% traffic increase is too much to ask for right now. How about, Increase blog traffic by 5%. 

Setting achievable targets is likely to produce better results. 


It is where the magic happens. The ultimate goal of every employee is to contribute to the growth of the organization. If your goal isn’t relevant to the mission, it makes no sense to have it.  

For example: Increase blog traffic by 5% to reach our monthly sales target of X figure. 

Goals work when they focus on the bigger picture. 


The sole purpose of starting something is to get you to end it and end it with positive results. A time-Bound goal means having a start date and an end date.  

For example: Increase blog traffic by 5% in 30 days to reach our monthly sales target of X figure. 

The above goal is now a SMART one that has vision, scope, and deadline. 

OKR vs SMART goals (The Similarities) 

Before we start with the differences, let’s have a look at some of the similarities.  

  • Both focus on goals as the key element for the success of any organization or business. It is the reason why both have a goal-setting process that’s enabled by a plan to achieve results in stipulated time. 
  • Both focus on being specific rather than having vague goals or expectations. 
  • Both are measurable, time-bound, and achievable. 
  • Both are open-source and aren’t under a government body like the EFQM model. 

OKR vs SMART goals (The Differences) 

From far away, OKRs and SMART goals look similar. They both focus on goal-setting and tracking progress. However, look closer, and see you will see that there is a whole lot of difference. SMART goals work in isolation, whereas OKRs can work out of it on a company-wide level. 

SMART goals have different interpretations depending upon the team or individual using the structure. For example, M as ‘Measurable’ can be replaced by Meaningful, Mission, Motivational, etc. Similarly, A as ‘Achievable’ can be replaced by ‘Attainable’ depending upon the need. 

Replacing ‘Measurable’ with Motivational will have an impact on the focus oa SMART goal. It also takes away focus from measuring and tracking the process. Thus, we can see that SMART goals are better suited to individuals or small teams for setting minor goals.  

OKRs, on the other hand, no matter the premise, always focuses on setting Objectives and achieving the Key Results for them. The focus of OKR remains constant on setting goals and measuring them effectively. 

Which one should you pick? 

SMART goals are easy to create, remember, and use. But it isn’t really a framework. More like a structure that’s suitable for creating goals in a closed setting. OKRs are better as they work for different hierarchical levels in an organization. With OKRs, the entire organization can align the three sets of goals (Individual, Team, and Organizational goals) towards a common purpose. 

You can use both of them together in your organization. To make your OKRs smarter, focus on three things: 

  • Keep specific objectives. 
  • Keep the Key Results measurable. 
  • Development of plans to achieve those objectives. 

How Keka will benefit your Goal Management ambitions  

Whether you are adopting a goal-setting tool for the first time or the umpteenth time, it’s better to have something that will do all the work for you and save you time, resources, and money.  

To learn more about the only platform that handles traditional goals and OKRs smartly, visit Keka.   

Sign up for a FREE demo! 


Table of Contents

    Meet the author

    Keka Editorial Team

    A bunch of inspired, creative and ambitious youngsters- that’s Keka’s editorial team for you. We have a thirst to learn new subjects and curate diverse pieces for our readers. Our deep understanding and knowledge of Human Resources has enabled us to answer almost every question pertaining to this department. If not seen finding ways to simplify the HR world, they can be found striking conversations with anyone and everyone , petting dogs, obsessing over gadgets, or baking cakes.


    Thank you for Subscribing!

    Related articles

    Employee Incentive Programs: Benefits, Examples and Best Practices
    Anwesha Panja 27 min read

    GenZ employees want more than a reward and recognition system, posing a challenge for HRs. Overcome this by exploring innovative incentive programs that go beyond the traditional rewards!

    Standing Out from the Crowd: How to Attract the Right Talent in a Competitive Market?
    Nikitha Joyce 19 min read

    Why do organizations look for talent in the same old, wrong places? While there is no best way, there are better approaches to attract talent in a competitive market. Explore how to define talent, attract, and develop strategies.

    Turning Appraisal Blues to Employee Happiness – Strategies for Post-Appraisal Management
    Nikitha Joyce 24 min read

    Appraisal seasons are both long-awaited and dreaded by both the employees and the company. However, employee discontent post-appraisal is inevitable. Find out the early signs of unhappiness and how to address such challenges.

    cookie image

    By clicking “Accept", you consent to our website's use of cookies to give you the most relevant experience by remembering your preferences and repeat visits. You may visit "cookie policy” to know more about cookies we use.